Former Saint's Remorse

News is circulating that Jason Stellman has finally made official what many surmised — converted to Roman Catholicism. The link to his piece is now dead, which may suggest a vast right-wing Protestant conspiracy. But various bloggers — eager beavers that they are — have offered extensive comments on various quotes from Stellman’s first public statement. These in turn give a feel for some of his reasoning. (My own knowledge of Stellman’s reflections come from the anonymous ghost of Reformed orthodoxy past.)

If the quotations are accurate, Stellman offers nothing really new so far. He still thinks sola scriptura will not yield an authoritative interpretation of Scripture (which Rome seems to do). He also questions the Protestant doctrine of sola scriptura.

The alleged deficiencies of Protestant soteriology deserve some comment. At one point Stellman writes:

Having realized that I was using a few select (and hermeneutically debatable) passages from Romans and Galatians as the filter through which I understood everything else the New Testament had to say about salvation, I began to conclude that such an approach was as arbitrary as it was irresponsible. I then sought to identify a paradigm, or simple statement of the gospel, that provided more explanatory value than Sola Fide did. As I hope to unpack in more detail eventually, I have come to understand the gospel in terms of the New Covenant gift of the Spirit, procured through the sacrifice and resurrection of Christ, who causes fruit to be borne in our lives by reproducing the image of the Son in the adopted children of the Father. If love of God and neighbor fulfills the law, and if the fruit of the Spirit is love, having been shed abroad by the Spirit in our hearts, then it seems to follow that the promise of the gospel is equivalent with the promise of the New Covenant that God’s law will no longer be external to the believer, but will be written upon his mind and heart, such that its righteous demands are fulfilled in us who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. And again unsurprisingly, when I turned to the early Church fathers, and especially Augustine, it was this very understanding of the gospel that I encountered over and over again.

What is striking about Rome’s teaching in Stellman’s account is its consequence for how we think about sainthood. According to Protestantism, I (all about me) am a saint already here and now by virtue of faith in Christ and the imputed righteousness and holiness that come by through saving faith. This is why most Reformed creeds and catechisms teach about the communion of the saints. Believers who gather for worship, are members of the church, baptized, and participate in the Lord’s Supper are saints. This is also the language of the New Testament. Paul addresses that sad sack of believers in Corinth as saints (2 Cor 1:1), as well as the believers in Ephesus (1:1).

Roman Catholics, in contrast, reserve the language of sainthood for those Christians who have been canonized. At one (of many) Roman Catholic websites, the process by which a believer becomes a saint receives the following description:

Canonization, the process the Church uses to name a saint, has only been used since the tenth century. For hundreds of years, starting with the first martyrs of the early Church, saints were chosen by public acclaim. Though this was a more democratic way to recognize saints, some saints’ stories were distorted by legend and some never existed. Gradually, the bishops and finally the Vatican took over authority for approving saints.

In 1983, Pope John Paul II made sweeping changes in the canonization procedure. The process begins after the death of a Catholic whom people regard as holy. Often, the process starts many years after death in order give perspective on the candidate. The local bishop investigates the candidate’s life and writings for heroic virtue (or martyrdom) and orthodoxy of doctrine. Then a panel of theologians at the Vatican evaluates the candidate. After approval by the panel and cardinals of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the pope proclaims the candidate “venerable.”

The next step, beatification, requires evidence of one miracle (except in the case of martyrs). Since miracles are considered proof that the person is in heaven and can intercede for us, the miracle must take place after the candidate’s death and as a result of a specific petition to the candidate. When the pope proclaims the candidate beatified or “blessed,” the person can be venerated by a particular region or group of people with whom the person holds special importance.

Only after one more miracle will the pope canonize the saint (this includes martyrs as well). The title of saint tells us that the person lived a holy life, is in heaven, and is to be honored by the universal Church. Canonization does not “make” a person a saint; it recognizes what God has already done.

Though canonization is infallible and irrevocable, it takes a long time and a lot of effort. So while every person who is canonized is a saint, not every holy person has been canonized. You have probably known many “saints” in your life, and you are called by God to be one yourself.

To move from membership in a Protestant church into fellowship with the Bishop of Rome (i.e., the Pope), then, is to lose one’s status as a saint. In fact, the Protestant convert could likely never recover his former status, given the requirements for canonization and beatification.

This difference may not be enough to give Stellman former saint’s remorse, but it does underscore an important difference between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. We view sainthood and sanctity differently, and the basis for that difference has much to do with the sole sufficiency of Christ’s righteousness for any Christian who might claim to be a saint.

This may also be an important perspective on those old debates about the priority of justification. Sanctification, imperfect as it is in this life, is not sufficient to make one a saint, at least not according to the communion that regards justification, according to Stellman, as a life-long process of having the love of God written on the believer’s heart. But justification (of the Protestant variety) is enough for sainthood since I personally receive all of Christ’s righteousness in faith and that is the only qualification in which I could take comfort for sanctity.

249 thoughts on “Former Saint's Remorse

  1. But Stellman and the Romanists don’t deny the need for Jesus to die on the cross. They don’t deny justification. They don’t deny imputation. They simply don’t think freedom from the guilt of the law is ENOUGH to keep us living good lives like they do. So they dismiss any idea that the fulfillment of the righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled by legal union with Christ’s death. And though they don’t deny that many Bible references to “sanctification” are to a status (either you are or you aren’t), they assume that holy status is not nearly as “actual” as is the process of removing corruption from their inner selves. Jesus got it started, but it’s not finished yet because the Spirit is now doing it in us.

    Charles Hodge: “One’s interpretation of Romans 8 verse 4 is determined by the view taken of Romans 8:3. If that verse means that God, by sending His Son, destroyed sin in us, then, of course, this verse must mean, “He destroyed sin in order that we should fulfill the law” —But Romans 8:3 refers to the sacrificial death of Christ and to the condemnation of sin in Him as the sinners’ substitute…

    John Gill: “internal holiness can never be reckoned the whole righteousness of the law: and though it is a fruit of Christ’s death, it is the work of the Spirit, and is neither the whole, nor any part of our justification: but this is to be understood of the righteousness of the law fulfilled by Christ, and imputed to us; Christ has fulfilled the whole righteousness of the law, all the requirements of it; this he has done in the room and stead of his people; and is imputed to them, by virtue of a federal union between him and them, he being the head, and they his members; and the law being fulfilled by him, it is reckoned all one as it was fulfilled in, or if by them; and hence they are personally, perfectly, and legally justified; and this is the end of Christ’s being sent, of sin being laid on him, and condemned in him. The descriptive character of the persons in Roman 8:4 is the same with that in Romans 8:1.”

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  2. http://www.reformedliterature.com/murray-the-agency-in-definitive-sanctification.php

    John Murray assumed that the “quickening” of Ephesians 2 has to do with corruption and not from guilt. Murray was right to notice that this “quickening” is in the present history of the elect person. But he assumed that it was not and could not be the imputation of righteousness and non-imputation of guilt. Murray simply begged the question with his presumption that we should be “rebuked” based on a mysterious ontological change in our persons so that in the main we don’t live to ourselves anymore.

    John Murray: Romans 6:7: “For he who died is justified from sin.” It must be admitted that to suppose a meaning alien to the forensic import of ‘justify’ would be without warrant. BUT we have to recognize that it is characteristic of Paul to use the same term with different shades of meaning in the same context and it is POSSIBLE for him to use this term in its forensic signification without reference to what is specifically justification. The particular context must determine the
    precise application of a term, and in this case it must be observed that Paul is NOT treating of justification but dealing with what is properly in the sphere of sanctification, namely, deliverance from the enslaving power of sin”.

    mcmark: John Murray continued to assume even when he contradicted himself. Murray rejected any idea that guilt not lording it over us accounts for death not lording it over us. “Christ being raised from the dead dies no more: death no longer lords it over him” (Rom. 6:9).

    John Murray: “We are compelled to reach the conclusion that it is by virtue of our having died with Christ and our being raised with him in his resurrection from the dead that the decisive breach with sin in its power, control, and defilement had been wrought… As the death and resurrection arc central in the whole process of redemptive accomplishment, so is it central in that by which sanctification itself is wrought in the hearts and lives of God’s people.

    mcmark: John Murray concluded what he assumed in the first place. He simply assumed that
    complete freedom from guilt is not “actual” in the way that incomplete (but decisive!) freedom from corruption is.

    John Murray: “Or do ye not know that as many of us as were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised unto his death?” (vs. 3). He is, therefore, dealing with that new life which is represented, signified, and sealed by baptism. Hence, it is vital and spiritual union with Christ that must be in view, a union that results in walking in newness of life after the pattern and in the power of Jesus’ own resurrection”

    mcmark: But why assume that baptism INTO THE DEATH is about corruption and not about the guilt? We can agree that this “baptism” takes place in the history of the individual without assuming (as Murray does) that it’s an instrumental effect of regeneration and faith. We don’t have to
    assume that this “baptism” is a mysterious mystical “ontological union”.

    John Murray: “It is difficult to determine how the finished action of Christ in the past relates itself to those who are contemplated in that action prior to the time when that past action takes effect in their life history. But this difficulty in no way interferes with the distinction between the finished work and its actual application.”

    mcmark: It would be less difficult if we see that the application is about guilt not being imputed and about Christ’s death being legally applied. But John Murray assumed that such an application was not the first and important and real “uniting”.

    I very much agree that what Christ already did for elect sins is not judicially counted to the elect until God does that in time. But John Murray did not think that answer was enough answer to
    the Romans 6 question and so he assumed his own answer must be correct.

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  3. RS: Another excellent post by D.G. Hart.

    D.G. Hart: To move from membership in a Protestant church into fellowship with the Bishop of Rome (i.e., the Pope), then, is to lose one’s status as a saint. In fact, the Protestant convert could likely never recover his former status, given the requirements for canonization and beatification.

    This difference may not be enough to give Stellman former saint’s remorse, but it does underscore an important difference between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. We view sainthood and sanctity differently, and the basis for that difference has much to do with the sole sufficiency of Christ’s righteousness for any Christian who might claim to be a saint.

    This may also be an important perspective on those old debates about the priority of justification.

    mark mcculley: But Stellman and the Romanists don’t deny the need for Jesus to die on the cross. They don’t deny justification.

    RS: But they do deny a forensic justification which is by grace alone through faith alone. That is a major difference with historical Protestants and is at the heart of the saint issue brought out in Dr. Hart’s post.

    McMark: They don’t deny imputation.

    RS: But they do deny the imputed righteousness of Christ that is complete and all that is needed to be in the presence of God. They call the imputed righteousness of Christ to believers “legal fiction.”

    McMark: They simply don’t think freedom from the guilt of the law is ENOUGH to keep us living good lives like they do. So they dismiss any idea that the fulfillment of the righteous requirement of the law is fulfilled by legal union with Christ’s death. And though they don’t deny that many Bible references to “sanctification” are to a status (either you are or you aren’t), they assume that holy status is not nearly as “actual” as is the process of removing corruption from their inner selves. Jesus got it started, but it’s not finished yet because the Spirit is now doing it in us.

    RS: The say that we are justified only when we have obtained righteousness by works, though indeed the works come by grace and faith. They say that since God will not justify a person that is not actually righteous, we must become righteous in order to be justified.

    However, to historical Protestants those who have been declared just be God are united to Christ and as such have eternal life. That eternal life in them will be seen. That abiding love that is in them will be seen. The Christ to whom they are united and the Spirit of the living God who dwells in them will change them and make them partakers of His holiness. Those things, however, don’t justify them.

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  4. It’s a big “they”. Some Romanists affirm “imputation”. Fitzmyer does agree with “imputation” in his commentary on Romans. But your point is the one I was trying to make. It doesn’t make any difference if they don’t deny it, if they don’t affirm it or if they don’t think imputation is relevant or actual when it comes to this matter of being holy saints before God.

    And of course there are different accounts of “imputation”. Arminians think that faith is what is imputed. Roman Catholics think that the forensic judgment will be based on works we do.

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  5. Romans 10 Brothers my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

    Jason tells us that he’s not fighting the law, but that he was fighting “the church”. But in his giving priority to the supposed work of the Holy Spirit in him over the finished work of Christ, he is saying
    that an imperfect satisfaction of the law is necessary to add to what Christ did to satisfy the law. In this, Jason is fighting against the strictness of the law.

    The “end of the law” is not simply a redemptive historical advance. Christ as “the end of the law” is also about Christ completing all that the law demanded, so that there is no remainder left for the Spirit enabled Christian to do IN ORDER TO BE A JUSTIFIED SAINT. (I agree with RS that this is not a “fiction” as many Romanists would have it.) The gospel says DONE. The gospel does
    not say “to be done by the life of Christ in the elect”.

    We must not attempt to eliminate the law/gospel antithesis by saying that God now has a new and easier law OR by saying that now we have the Holy Spirit and now we can do it (enough). That kind of “dispensational redemptive-historical adjustment” is not only antinomian but also at
    the same still legalistic.

    The idea of some kind of “end run” around God’s law, so that God now changes the game and “cuts us some slack” and calls our imperfect obedience enough, this misses what the gospel says about Christ’s satisfaction of the law for the elect.

    Christians sin, and therefore their activity cannot ever satisfy the law. But God’s laws will not go unsatisfied. God is not a prisoner of His laws, but God does have a Holy nature and His laws are an
    expression of that nature, and God will always act justly. The wages of the sins of the elect was Christ’s death. God’s law demanded that death.

    The law is not the gospel and it never was the gospel. Romans 11:5–”So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace. But if it is by grace, it is not on the basis of works; otherwise grace would not be grace.”

    Galatians 2: 21 “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.”

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  6. If I ever become convinced that Reformed protestantism is not true you will not find me in a Cathlolic church, an Evangelical church, a liberal protestant church, or any kind of church on Sunday morning. You’ll find me in bed or on a golf course. Either Christ has done everything I need for salvation and I merely need to believe it, or not. A religion of Christ + this or that makes no sense to me. It follows that if Christ has given me salvation he will also work in my sorry flesh to make me more like Him. This takes time, but he will do it. Nothing else gives me reason for hope.

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  7. I am still struggling to understand what was governing Jason’s hermenutics here. His biblical theology seems so lacking, as Paul’s emphasis on justification by faith is grounded in his own Old Testament exegesis. The whole sacraficial system of the Old Covenant points to justification by faith. Was the blood painted on the doorways more or less effective for those who were either confident or conversely struggled with doubt that God would save them. Horton’s (controversial) insistence of justification as a speech act is all over the Psalms, where the language of the courtroom is so prevalent. Here, the sinner is declared just, in spite of his sin, and the afflicted are vindicated in the presence of the oppressor.

    The Romanist view of salvation is strikingly similar to the requirements laid upon Israel to stay in the land – which didn’t work out too well. It’s not as if the Protestant arguments for Justification flow exclusively from a “few passages in Paul” that have been ripped out of context. It’s almost as if he has bought into the jingoisms of some of the RC online apologists, because it is not as if the Protestant views on justification are indefensible, or without a long history of intelligent defense. The “official” views of Rome on the matters of Justification are only as old as the Protestant views anyway, so it’s not as if they have the “ancient” argument absolutely vindicating their positions.

    It’s just sad, no matter how you slice it.

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  8. Jed,

    Couple points by way of response to you (without getting into a protracted debate).

    What I said about Paul as the filter was simply relaying VanDrunen’s argument made to me privately. Yes, I stated it more starkly than he did, but that doesn’t change the approach that the Reformed tend to advocate, namely, to read Jesus and everything else through a Pauline lens. (Darryl may also disagree with this, as he has said to me on occasion that he sees an overemphasis on Paul over others.)

    As far as the whole OT sacrificial system, I think Paul addresses that issue directly in I Cor. 10, where he says that the sacrifices of the Jews (or even of pagans) function for them just like the Supper does for Christians — not in a merely judcial or substitutionary way, but by way of identification and participation. Just like the Jew became one with the sacrifice by eating it, so we become one with Christ by eating his flesh. I would encourage you to wrestle hard with the juxtaposition that Paul sets up in that passage.

    So maybe it’s not that my biblical theology is lacking, but that you saw that I disagreed with you in a short piece which I explicitly say is not intended to be a detailed defense of anything.

    Gotta go, this Gurkha is not going to smoke itself.

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  9. Jason,

    What’s the necessity or compulsion to play all this out on the blogs? What’s the end game?

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  10. JJS – Rev. Jody Lucero is my pastor in Des Moines, Iowa. He said he was a classmate of yours at Westminster (in the same class even, I think). He is in Georgia this week at RYS with his wife & 2 kids from our church. He’s a great pastor. His sermons are always worth listening to.

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  11. JJS: What I said about Paul as the filter was simply relaying VanDrunen’s argument made to me privately. Yes, I stated it more starkly than he did, but that doesn’t change the approach that the Reformed tend to advocate, namely, to read Jesus and everything else through a Pauline lens. (Darryl may also disagree with this, as he has said to me on occasion that he sees an overemphasis on Paul over others.)

    RS: There are some major (like huge) problems with the assertion that the Reformed tend to read Jesus and everything else through a Pauline lens. 1) All Scripture is God-breathed and so all Scripture is breathed forth by the Holy Spirit. 2) Paul was an apostle of Jesus Christ and as such he was sent with the words of Christ. 3) Jesus taught the same Gospel as Paul taught. There is only one Gospel and it is the eternal Gospel.

    Allow me to add one more thing, however. The Gospel that Jesus and Paul both taught was grace and grace alone and Christ and Christ alone. The Gospel is of Christ alone and that means what Christ alone has done and it can only come by sheer grace alone. There is nothing that can be added to the work of Christ and any attempt to add the slightest work to grace makes grace no longer to be grace (Rom 11:6).

    Luke 7:47 “For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” 48 Then He said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.” 49 Those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this man who even forgives sins?” 50 And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

    Luke 18:13 “But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’
    14 “I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

    Luke 23:42 And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!”
    43 And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”

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  12. Erik, I am with you on not being in any “church” if one day I come to the place where I don’t believe that the death of Christ for the elect is enough to satisfy God’s law. Since I am a sinner, it seems a most terrible place to be, when you are on the one hand back under a modified law (family law, covenant law, Sungenis calls it in Not By Faith Alone) to be justified in the end and on the other hand, you know that your normal and usual way of life does not measure up to what God requires. To be both antinomian and legalist at the same time, and then credit the Holy Spirit of truth for your hope in the lie, that way is despair!

    We live in a day when many folks think they have escaped legalism by simply eliminating any antithesis between law and gospel (now that they are Christians in the covenant). Thus they want to
    distribute Christ’s righteousness to both the “instead of us” AND the “in us”. They instruct us to stop looking only at the past and at the cross, and begin to look also to “future grace” by the “conditional grace” of the Holy Spirit working in us.

    Romans 7:4–”You have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we bear fruit for God.”

    Faith in the gospel has as its object not just any “Jesus” or any “grace”, but the Jesus who satisfied the law for all who will be justified (and not for the non-elect). This faith in the gospel is not
    only a sovereign gift but a righteous gift, given on behalf of Christ and His law-work (Philippians 1:29; John 17). But the typical answer is to say that our trust is “in the person”, as if we could identify that person without knowing the truth about justification and the atonement.

    Norman Shepherd keeps asking: If faith works and faith is an instrument, why can’t works of faith be also an instrument? It’s not good enough answer to say that we know the history of salvation and don’t care about the order of application to the individual.

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  13. Chesterton, who seems to be a “saint” in the eyes of some conservatives, in his essay, Education: Or the Mistake About the Child: “The difference between Calvinism and Catholicism is not about whether some priestly word or gesture is significant and sacred. It is about whether any word or
    gesture is significant or sacred. To the Catholic every other daily act is dramatic dedication to the service of good or evil. To the Calvinist no act can have that sort of solemnity, because the person
    doing it has been dedicated from eternity, and is merely filling up his time until the crack of doom.”

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  14. Jason,

    Where you seem to be going with the language of participation is vastly different than where I think Paul goes with it, or frankly the Reformers, especially Calvin went with it. It seems as if the concept of participation is vastly important to your work in “The Destiny of the Species” (at least what you have intimated with regards to it in some of your past blog postings). I am not sure how much the concept figured into your move to Rome, but I wouldn’t be shocked if it played some small part. As developed as Rome’s concept of participation and ascent are, and as anemic as the focus on ascent has been historically in Protestantism, I am not convinced that Rome gets it right at all. It seems to me, that in the final estimation Rome’s doctrine and practice of participation obliterates the Creature/Creator distinction. While Protestants might (or at least should) lament the little attention we have given to participation, it seems as if this was never the intent of Calvin, who was a theologian of the heart par excellence, and the human soul’s life in Christ looms large in his works. His robust theology of participation was fundamentally grounded in the bedrock foundation of justification – man can participate in the divine precisely because he has been decisively and irrevocably made right with God on the basis of faith apart from works. In Rome’s construction of participation, this foundation is only given strength on the basis of the participant, who could ostensibly loose the foundation of participation if a mortal sin were to jeopardize his relationship with God. Additionally, the whole concept of Purgatory seems to throw a serious monkey wrench in the whole notion of participation, where the soul must bear the punishment (at least in some way) for it’s sin even after it had begun to participate in the presence of God and in the new life he bestowed upon it prior to death.

    But, back to the matter of biblical theology, in terms of the biblical doctrine of salvation, it can all be summarized this way:

    But Israel is saved by the LORD
    with everlasting salvation;
    you shall not be put to shame or confounded
    to all eternity. (Isaiah 45:17)

    As it has been elaborated upon by Protestant (and Reformed) biblical theologians, the mechanism of this salvation has been, from the very beginning predicated on faith in Messiah, apart from the works of the Law. This is not a merely Pauline doctrine, and while the caricature may be sometimes earned by Protestant/Reformed scholars and pastors who may place an over-emphasis on Pauline literature, it is certainly not the case that this is a fair reading of either our shared Protestant confessional heritage, or of many of our ablest exegetes from the Protestant Reformers on down to the current day (e.g. Vos, Waltke, Schriner, Beale, Sailhamer, Thielman, Kline, et. al.). Rome certainly wouldn’t deny that salvation is of the Lord, but what is meant by this is certainly not what we mean by it, or how Scripture itself construes it, as they add to the Scriptural testimony the mediation of tradition, and it’s own ecclesiastical authority. In the end the only way they construe our salvation as being divinely wrought necessarily includes the workings of man in order to bring this salvation to fruition – a point I am sure we are now bound to disagree upon.

    No need to have a protracted discussion here, I am sure you have a ton on your plate, but if you ever want to discuss this stuff, let me know and I’ll bring the beer.

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  15. “To move from membership in a Protestant church into fellowship with the Bishop of Rome (i.e., the Pope), then, is to lose one’s status as a saint.”

    I read this and I was stunned at how simple and profound this is.

    What a loss, what a reversal.

    There is a larger principle at stake here and I’m struggling how to precisely express it. Perhaps someone could put it into words.

    How does one’s ecclesiastical connections express one’s spiritual status…

    In the Calvary Chapel system there is no membership; all have the status of saints by attending regularly. Hence, ecclesiatically speaking, Stellman didn’t exhibit “sainthood” until he left that system and joined the PCA? (don’t know his history)

    And now he has lost it again? Ouch.

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  16. Jed: “Calvin’s robust theology of participation was fundamentally grounded in the bedrock foundation of justification – man can participate in the divine precisely because he has been decisively and irrevocably made right with God on the basis of faith (in righteousness imputed) apart from works. In Rome’s construction of participation, this foundation is only given strength on the basis of the participant, who could ostensibly lose the foundation of participation if a mortal sin were to jeopardize his relationship with God. Rome certainly wouldn’t deny that salvation is of the Lord, but …. In the end the only way they construe our salvation as being divinely wrought necessarily includes the workings of man in order to bring this salvation to fruition.’

    mcmark: Jed is certainly correct in his assessment of how the “participation” category is being used by converts to Rome. I quote from one convert on “Called to Communion”—- “This penal substitution theory of the atonement is patently false. Christ died for us, but it wasn’t a simple swap. Christ uses the language of participation. We are to be ‘in Him’ and we are to also carry the cross. Christ doesn’t take up the cross so that we don’t have to take up the cross. It’s not a clean exchange. It’s not: “Jesus suffers so that we don’t have to.” Rather we participate in His redemption.”

    mcmark: Many in our day have put an “inclusive substitution” in antithesis over against an “exclusive substitution”. They have rejected any idea that legal imputation is the basis of “we died” or “we live in newness of life.” As Bruce McCormack explains, “Since the gift of the Holy
    Spirit is itself a consequence of adoption (Romans 8:15) and not the condition of adoption, a legal metaphor is used to describe the act in which God turns toward the individual in his grace without respect for the subjective consequences of that turning in us. Union with Christ in the Bible
    refers to an union of wills.”

    McCormack: ” I do not participate in the historical humanity of Christ (a thought which would require an unity on the level of “substance” in terms of a Platonic realism which holds that universals are more real than particulars). At first glance, the image of the vine and the branches (John 15)
    might be seen to connote an organic connection between Christ and the believer. Some in the early church thought of the union as an “ontological person in whom being is mixed with non-being”. On that view, why would the Holy Spirit still be needed—once the Spirit hadjoined our humanity to Christ’s, the life that is in Christ would flow directly. But the vine-branches analogy is only for describing a legal and ethical relation.”

    McCormack: “The flow of life-giving nutrients from the vine to the branches takes place naturally, automatically; it does not require an act of will on the side of either the vine or the branch. But in
    the case of the relation of Christ and the believer, we are dealing with a willed relation. As John 15:3 says, “You are ALREADY CLEAN BECAUSE OF THE WORD I HAVE SPOKEN TO YOU.”

    mcmark: To Roman Catholics, nobody not dead yet is a “saint”. Many “reformed protestants” agree with them about that. To them, “sanctification” is a process which depends on their 100%
    effort, and though they give God credit, they take the blame for why they are not saints yet. The Spirit, they think, helps them try harder.

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  17. Smeaton, The Apostles’ Doctrine of the Atonement: “It is a mistake to not carry Romans 5 into Romans 6. If we carry the thought of the representative character of the two Adams from the one chapter into the other, then the difficulty vanishes. All men sinned in the first man’s act of sin; for that public act was representative, and all Adam’s offspring were included in it.

    The ideas of Christ being our Surety and the representation of His atonement as the act of “one for many”, run through this entire section of Romans. But the passage we are studying (Romans 6:1-8) contains one difference as compared with other passages, and that is that here we are described as doing what our representative did.

    “We died to sin (Romans 6: 2). This phrase frequently occurs in the writings of Paul in different forms, and it always alludes, not to an inward deliverance from sin, but to the Christian’s objective relation. It means that we are legally dead to sin in Jesus Christ. This is made very clear by two other expressions occurring in the section. The first of these passages applies the same language to the Lord Himself; for He is said to have died to sin once (verse 10). Now the only sense in which the Sinless One can be regarded as dying to sin, is that of dying to its guilt, or to the condemning power which goes along with sin, and which must run its course wherever sin has been committed. He died to the guilt or criminality of sin when it was laid on Him. He certainly did not die to sins indwelling power.

    The second of these phrases shows that this dying was the meritorious cause of our justification. “He that is dead has been justified from sin” (verse 7). The justification of the Christian is thus based on his co-dying with Christ; that is, we are said to have died when Christ died, and to have done what Christ did. The words undoubtedly mean a co-dying with Christ in that one corporate representative deed; that is, they mean that we were one with Christ in His obedience unto death, just like we were one with Adam in his disobedience.

    Christ’s death to sin belongs to us, and is as much ours as if we had born the penalty ourselves. And the justification by which we are forgiven and accepted has no other foundation. Paul says in this section that our old man is crucified, or co-crucified with Him. The entire section of which this is a part is to be regarded not as an exhortation, but as the simple statement of fact; this passage does not set forth anything done by us, but something done on our account, or for our sake, by a Surety, in whose performance we participate.”

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  18. Jed,

    You know greenbaggins is gonna have this debate and I’m sure it’ll be interesting, a bunch if not all the guys at CtC are trained philosophers and various lay theologian types practicing in their fields or pursuing additional studies. The one thing that won’t get dealt with, is that the CtC guys and I’ll go ahead and lump Jason in with that crew at this point, are an unusual and peculiar somewhat new branch of the RC, probably an uniquely american sort. They are the proto-catholic. What I mean by that is they all still reveal their protestant slip by engaging in arguing for their faith and melting it down to propositional truth arrangements and considerations. This isn’t Rome, this isn’t RC practice beyond elementary CCD classes you undertake as a child, and quite frankly a number of cradle and cultural catholics don’t particularly like them. RC practice is the mass, it’s the eucharist, it’s engaging the sacraments with earnestness and submitting to the priestcraft, and anymore it’s devotion to Mary. It’s a religion of the pageant and the form, NOT the word whether that’s the word of tradition or scripture. It’s bizarre as a former rc to even watch these debates go on about the superintending role of the magisterium as guardians over the deposit of faith. Every rc knows with very few exceptions that the magisterium particularly as it melts down into the archbishops and bishops of a diocese are largely POLITICAL positions with political functions and that’s what these guys are placed there to perform. These guys aren’t theological talking heads. Shoot my parents and many of their generation 9and even now there’s a resurgence of it in the newer generation), want to go back to the latin mass and the priest turned away from them, and not because they understand Latin. But because it’s more dramatic, it’s more transcendent, it’s more ‘otherness’ and mystery and more pageantry. Rome isn’t about the intellectual discourse, apart from the political aspects, and they are particularly adept at that, just see what Georgetown alone puts out. They are about the pageant. Another example, I’m taking courses at OST(oblate school of theology) circa ’87 and these gets repeated at USD in ’92. One of the big breakthroughs is that vatican II now allows them to pursue the scriptures and train their congregants more in bible study. Well, they have very little experience doing such so they go to German protestant liberalism of Bultman and the higher-critics and capitalizing upon the Jesus seminar, start deconstructing the scriptures as to what Jesus actually said and did, and what the ‘community of faith’ added on later. This is big stuff and groundbreaking for them and it’s taken whole cloth from protestant liberalism of an entire generation ago. I don’t remember the whole debate or even exactly it’s content, but I remember Bahnsen pausing in the midst of debating an rc apologist and going ‘wait, one minute your defending Trent and the next minute you’re disowning Trent and I’m no longer debating an rc but another protestant’ (paraphrase). Another example, maryology, isn’t born largely of exegetical considerations or deep thinking going on in Rome, but is a particular manifestation of an ever-increasing devotion to Mary taking place in the pews and during the week and in marathon rosary sessions. Finally, the ‘church’ rubberstamps it as it’s getting difficult to ignore the increasing practice and it’s acceptance and it’s helpfulness, particularly with women in engaging them and nurturing them in the faith.
    The CtC are this interesting hybrid group with a protestant(word) predilection, that essentially amounts to a bait and switch, because once your in the door it isn’t about your devotion to the word of scripture or tradition as it’s articulated in the ever-evolving deposit of faith, but instead the practice of the mass and the accompanying sacraments and now mary-worship/veneration. It matters little the undergirding philosophical or propositional truth considerations. That’s not what Rome is about. I don’t think anything will be resolved, but it’ll be interesting….kinda.

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  19. D.G.,

    You write, ” In fact, the Protestant convert could likely never recover his former status, given the requirements for canonization and beatification.” This confuses your readers. Canonization and beatification are not necessary to become a saint in the Catholic Church. Not all saints are recognized, hence, we have the popular Catholic solemnity “All Saints Day” which celebrates the lives of all saints, known and unknown. It may be helpful to clear this up.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy Tate

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  20. mcmark: Many in our day have put an “inclusive substitution” in antithesis over against an “exclusive substitution”. They have rejected any idea that legal imputation is the basis of “we died” or “we live in newness of life.”

    RS: McMark, are you a lover of Barth? I thought McCormack was a Barthian?

    McMark: As Bruce McCormack explains, “Since the gift of the Holy Spirit is itself a consequence of adoption (Romans 8:15) and not the condition of adoption, a legal metaphor is used to describe the act in which God turns toward the individual in his grace without respect for the subjective consequences of that turning in us. Union with Christ in the Bible refers to an union of wills.”

    RS: A legal metaphor? So union with Christ is only to a union of wills? What does it mean to have a union of wills? If I may go on this for just a bit, does it make sense to speak of people as having a will? Isn’t the will (so to speak) really just the soul’s capacity to choose? If that is the case, then what does it mean to have a union of will? It means that it is a union of souls.

    McMark quoting McCormack the Barthian: ” I do not participate in the historical humanity of Christ (a thought which would require an unity on the level of “substance” in terms of a Platonic realism which holds that universals are more real than particulars). At first glance, the image of the vine and the branches (John 15) might be seen to connote an organic connection between Christ and the believer. Some in the early church thought of the union as an “ontological person in whom being is mixed with non-being”. On that view, why would the Holy Spirit still be needed—once the Spirit hadjoined our humanity to Christ’s, the life that is in Christ would flow directly. But the vine-branches analogy is only for describing a legal and ethical relation.”

    RS: But of course if the Trinity is truly united the life of Christ is the life of the Spirit. It is also true that the Spirit of Christ is the Holy Spirit.

    McMark quoting McCormack the Barthian: “The flow of life-giving nutrients from the vine to the branches takes place naturally, automatically; it does not require an act of will on the side of either the vine or the branch. But in the case of the relation of Christ and the believer, we are dealing with a willed relation. As John 15:3 says, “You are ALREADY CLEAN BECAUSE OF THE WORD I HAVE SPOKEN TO YOU.”

    RS: But again, what in the world is a willed relation apart from a spiritual union? If Christ is truly the life of His people, then there is something flowing from Him to the believer and in the believer that cannot be explained by “willed relation.”

    mcmark: To Roman Catholics, nobody not dead yet is a “saint”. Many “reformed protestants” agree with them about that. To them, “sanctification” is a process which depends on their 100%
    effort, and though they give God credit, they take the blame for why they are not saints yet. The Spirit, they think, helps them try harder.

    RS: 1 Corinthians 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me.

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  21. I could throw around some labels also. I could say that being an “Edwardsian” is one step on the way from Arminianism to Rome’s salvation by sacramental participation. But instead I refer back to Hart’s point about already being a “saint”

    Hebrews 10:10 “And by God’s will we Have Been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all
    time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he HAS PERFECTED FOR ALL TIME those who are being sanctified.”

    “Those who are being sanctified” does not refer to the Christian life or the process of growth (which traditionally are called “sanctification”) but to individuals having the blood applied to them in time so that they saints. When this happens, they are “perfected”. They will have completely died.

    Either they will have completely died or not. They will have be sanctified or they will not.
    Our sanctification, at least in terms of Hebrews 10:10-14) is NOT a matter of degree. We are not caught in the middle somewhere, having escaped the law-gospel antithesis, but still caught in the “not yet” gray of needing to work to become saints. Saints are perfected by Christ, and at the same time sinners

    All have died. This does not mean that we were sick but are gradually improving and getting better. It means we were condemned, and now we are justified. All have died. This does not mean that the dark is somewhat less dark now. Definitive sanctification is not some ontological breach with sin but is about God identifying certain persons with the death of Christ.

    Sanctification is NOT God giving us a new non-sinful nature which then helps us to gradually overcome the power of sin, so that we move in the direction of sinning less. The power of sin is the penalty, the guilt, the accusation of sin, and the “have died” is the complete solution to the power of sin. Romans 6:14–“sin will not have dominion over you BECAUSE YOU ARE NOT UNDER LAW.”

    To deny that Romans 6 nd Hebrews 10 are about “regeneration” is NOT to deny the need for
    “regeneration” but it’s to attend to the logic of the texts. There are two representatives and there
    is antithesis. Either we are sanctified or we are not. We either have access to the holy God or we do not. Yes, there was a time when the elect were not yet sanctified. But even when Christ was outside of the elect and the elect were outside of Christ, Christ had already died for the elect, and when God legally applied that death, God “baptized” them into that death and “in Christs” they died.

    Dead or not. Sanctified or not.

    Mike Horton does not agree with Bruce McCormack on many things, and it’s not enough for Gaffin to simply cry “Barthian” and not attend to the specific questions about the meaning of Romans 6 and Galatians 3 (because you are sons, God sends the Spirit).

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  22. “Perichoresis … is rightly employed in trinitarian discourse for describing that which is DISSIMILAR in the analogy between intra-trinitarian relations … and human-to-human relations. Nowadays, we are suffering from ‘creeping perichoresis,’ that is, the overly expansive use of terms to describe relations between human beings who do not participate in a common ‘substance’ and who, therefore, remain distinct individuals.”

    ” It is in the context of his treatment of eucharistic feeding that Calvin borrows rhetoric from the early church that brings him into conflict with his own doctrine of justification. The term ‘ingrafting’ is used in Romans 9-11 to speak of inclusion in the covenant of grace, which results in a share in all the gifts and privileges. That Paul would preface his use of the horticultural image with the affirmation that the adoption belonged to the Israelites before the Gentiles suggests that the image of ‘ingrafting’ is used as a synonym for adoption. The horticultural image is subordinated to the legal….

    —Bruce L. McCormack, “What’s at Stake in Current Debates over Justification? The Crisis of Protestantism in the West,” in Justification: What’s at Stake in the Current Debates, ed. Mark
    Husbands and Daniel J. Treier (Downers Grove: IVP, 2004), p. 111.

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  23. mark mcculley: Smeaton, The Apostles’ Doctrine of the Atonement: “It is a mistake to not carry Romans 5 into Romans 6. If we carry the thought of the representative character of the two Adams from the one chapter into the other, then the difficulty vanishes. All men sinned in the first man’s act of sin; for that public act was representative, and all Adam’s offspring were included in it.

    RS: But if we take Romans 5 and its thought into Romans 6, it might end up in a different place than where Smeaton and you (McMark) want it to go. As Smeaton himself admits, his interpretation is at odds with the Puritan tradition (and though he didn’t say it, the WCF) and he says (in context of the Puritans) that the reason for that is that they did not take the thought of Romans 5 into Romans 6. This is most likely a way of saying that they did not take the same thought from Romans 5 into Romans 6 that Smeaton did.

    Romans 5:5 and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

    Romans 5:17 For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.

    Romans 5:19 For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. 20 The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    RS: Then we get to Romans 6:1-2 which follows directly after verse 21 (last verse) of chapter 5.
    Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase?
    2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?

    Chapter six flows right out of chapter five, yes, but chapter six is speaking of not continuing in sin and why we are not to continue in sin so that grace may increase. The reason is that those who have died to sin should not (can not?) live in it. Romans 6:4 speaks of living/walking in newness of life. The context is not just talking about judicial proclamations, it is speaking of living and how one lives under the reign of grace rather than the reign of sin. True enough all died and sinned in Adam as a result of the sin of Adam, but all also continue in sin and live in sin in a way that is different from those that are under the reign of grace in Christ.

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  24. mark mcculley: I could throw around some labels also. I could say that being an “Edwardsian” is one step on the way from Arminianism to Rome’s salvation by sacramental participation. But instead I refer back to Hart’s point about already being a “saint”

    RS: You could say that about Edwards, but it would not be true. There is a reason that they call Barth neo-orthodox. There is a reason that Barth did not believe in a literal resurrection. There is a reason that Barth tried to replace many things in the Bible in order to fit a more rational approach. Barthians are usually not the most orthodox and do seem to make an effort to take as much supernatural out of the Bible as they can. I am just saying that when I read McCormack taking some of the supernatural out in his interpretations, I do wonder.

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  25. D.G.,

    The notion that “To move from membership in a Protestant church into fellowship with the Bishop of Rome (i.e., the Pope), then, is to lose one’s status as a saint” equivocates on the term ‘saint,’ because in Catholic theology and practice the term ‘saint’ is used in two different senses. In one sense, it refers to all those in a state of grace. In other sense it refers to those who by the grace of God have lived lives of heroic virtue and died in a state of grace. To move from Protestant to Catholic does not mean that one ceases to be a saint in the first sense (i.e. being in a state of grace). But merely being in a state of grace does not entail being a saint in the second sense (i.e. living a life of heroic virtue and dying in a state of grace).

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

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  26. Bryan Cross: D.G., The notion that “To move from membership in a Protestant church into fellowship with the Bishop of Rome (i.e., the Pope), then, is to lose one’s status as a saint” equivocates on the term ‘saint,’ because in Catholic theology and practice the term ‘saint’ is used in two different senses. In one sense, it refers to all those in a state of grace. In other sense it refers to those who by the grace of God have lived lives of heroic virtue and died in a state of grace. To move from Protestant to Catholic does not mean that one ceases to be a saint in the first sense (i.e. being in a state of grace). But merely being in a state of grace does not entail being a saint in the second sense (i.e. living a life of heroic virtue and dying in a state of grace).

    RS: Bryan, while I am not authorized to speak for D.G., I would like to engage your post a little and defend D.G.’s point in the process. He is generally quite good when he is not speaking on the subject of Jonathan Edwards (poke, poke). I think his point is that in Protestant theology all believers are declared just, righteous, holy, and blameless in Christ and all are called saints in the biblical sense. In other words, all true believers are saints in the highest sense at that point because they are viewed in Christ and have received His work on the cross as removing all their sin and then His perfect righteousness being imputed to them. Roman Catholicism denies that particular aspect of believers being declared just in Christ based on His completed work alone.

    On the other hand, being a saint in the Roman Catholic sense is impossible. There cannot possibly be a treasury of merit earned or merited by anyone other than Christ since the only righteousness that can possibly be accepted is that of Christ. So indeed if person A turns his back on what it means to be a saint in the Protestant sense and never repents, one cannot be a saint in any sense (from the Protestant view). While the term may have been used in an equivocal sense with Roman glasses on, from the Protestant view it was not. Once again, we are back to that hinge of the Reformation on which so many things turn. Justification by the imputed righteousness of Christ.

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  27. Bryan, but surely you don’t introduce yourself at a cocktail party as a saint. And when Roman Catholics talk about saints, are they thinking about your or Mother Theresa?

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  28. D.G.,

    I’m not sure I understand your question to Bryan. Do you introduce yourself as a saint at cocktail parties? Interesting.

    Again, your post confuses readers because you treat the term saint in only the second sense that Bryan speaks of above. Then you write, “And when Roman Catholics talk about saints, are they thinking about your (you) or Mother Theresa?” Fair enough. I agree that many of the Catholic faithful too often only think of saints in the second sense, as those who lived lives of heroic virtue and died in a state of grace.

    But what about saints in the Reformed tradition? I think of my good friend from college (him and I were both Reformed at the time) who was consumed in a life of sexual sin. He believed that God allowed him to stay in that state of sin so he would understand just how truly depraved he was. He said the more he sinned the more thankful he become for the alien righteousness of Christ. See, he had confidence that he was every bit as much of a saint as John Calvin or any other hero in the Reformed tradition because his theology of sainthood taught him that his own internal virtue had no importance whatsoever. How would you correct my friend’s misunderstanding?

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

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  29. most Reformed creeds and catechisms teach about the communion of the saints

    As does the Apostle’s Creed — when Catholics confess that, are they talking about the Priesthood of Believers, or the Club of the Canonized?

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  30. Jeremy, I’d say your friend was wrong to think that God wanted him to remain sinful so he could understand total depravity. But your friend was right that he was as much a saint as Calvin (if he truly rested in Christ’s forgiveness and righteousness). There is a difference here, though, since no Protestant minister teaches what your friend believed about his sinfulness. Roman Catholic clergy and websites do teach matters that lead Roman Catholics to think only of sainthood in terms of canonization.

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  31. Jeremy,

    You think alien righteousness can lend itself being misconstrued by the faithful? You want to take a survey of how many times alien righteousness leads to licentiousness, versus ” I’ll go to confession, be absolved, do penance and then wash, rinse repeat after next friday night.” This isn’t a survey that’s gonna work out for your side.

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  32. Hi RubeRad,

    The Baltimore Catechism answers your question about what Catholics mean in the Apostles Creed when we confess the communion of saints. It states, “The communion of saints means the union which exists between the members of the Church on earth with one another, and with the blessed in heaven and with the suffering souls in purgatory.” – Quesetion 338

    BTW, I just checked out your website, very cool images.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

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  33. Jeremy,

    I got another survey for you, you wanna compare how many RCers know anything about the Baltimore catechism versus how many reformed know more than a few planks of the WCF? I got money on that outcome too.

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  34. Jeremy, thanks for clarifying.

    And if you mean my header image, that was taken a few years ago in Ireland, in an area on the SW coast called “The Burren”. Those are my two older boys running across the limestone. If you are interested, the complete set of 437 (!) pictures from that trip is online.

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  35. Wait nevermind, you probably went to my other blog. I’m not sure where that outhouse picture originally came from… (But now if you’re curious I was talking about ruberad.wordpress.com)

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  36. Sean,

    I can assure you my own children know the Baltimore Catechism very well so do the children of all my good Catholic friends. But you’re right. Reformed people do an excellent job of catechizing their children and I am thankful the Reformed faith taught me to do this. Speaking of children, I have daddy duty for the next three days with a wife in South Carolina so I’m signing off.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

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  37. Jeremy,

    Not to be a complete jerk about it, but when you get a chance, maybe think about where you learned to do that and why and where your catholic friends learned to do that as well. Have fun with your kids.

    Sean

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  38. Richard,

    Hart drew this conclusion immediately after a lengthy citation regarding the Catholic canonization process, followed by “In fact, the Protestant convert could likely never recover his former status, given the requirements for canonization and beatification.” Notice the word ‘likely.’ Hart is saying that in the Catholic paradigm, Jason would most likely never be a saint (in the heroic virtue sense). I’m pointing out in reply that in the Catholic paradigm, Jason would, Lord willing, remain a saint in the sense of being in a state of grace. So, in becoming Catholic he wouldn’t lose sainthood in the sense in which all persons in a state of grace are saints, even if he did not become a saint in the heroic virtue sense. But in the Catholic paradigm, becoming a saint in the heroic virtue sense, whether canonized or uncanonized, is open to every Catholic.

    D.G.,

    No, I don’t introduce myself as a saint at cocktail parties, and I agree that the heroic virtue sense of the term is the most common sense of the term in Catholic usage. But that does not falsify anything I said in my previous comment.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

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  39. Sean,

    Let’s go further back. Where did the early Reformers get the idea of catecheisis that has been passed down within the Reformed tradition? They got it from the Catholic Church.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

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  40. Darryl,

    I’m engaged in a Facebook thread about Stellman (I am in the PCA) with some friends from CTC (Joshua Lim and Chad Pecknold) and it seems to me that the vast majority of the arguments between Protestants and Catholics rest on how we understand the Apostolic Fathers. In other words, while schism between Lutherans, Calvinists, and Anglicans rest on hundreds of things that each have to be addressed, schism between Protestants and Catholics+Orthodox seems to rest on differing understandings of the period of the Apostolic Fathers, out of which the differing hermeneutics (and their ensuing doctrines like sainthood) arise. Maybe individuals have different motivations for converting both ways, but it seems to me that the basic reason a Catholic becomes a Protestant is because he starts to think like a Protestant (and vice-versa) which in turn assumes something about the history of the early church: namely, whether to regard the extra-Biblical government, practices and beliefs of the Apostolic Fathers as authoritative in a way that requires obsequium religiosum. Even Calvin and Luther both agreed that many of the Apostolic Fathers practiced and believed many things that they opposed–including the veneration of saints like Polycarp–but they did not believe such practices and doctrines were authoritative in the same way.

    Would you (or others on here) agree that this is the crux of the matter, and the rest are just footnotes? (For me, if I were convinced of that, I’d become Catholic.) What resources would you recommend for this? So far I’ve relied mostly on Jaroslav Pelikan’s 5 Volume Series for my very early church history.

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  41. Jeremy,

    Ah did they now, is this the same Rome that taught them the faith through pictures and symbology and such things as the stations of the cross. The same church who before Vatican II didn’t encourage bible reading apart from priestly instruction, if then. The same church who did the mass in Latin, to english speaking congregations. I mean which Rome are we gonna talk about? You got tent pegs in the ground a few miles across to accomodate all the different belief systems going on. Which is part of the reason the rally point isn’t the confession or the deposit of faith or the Baltimore catechism, but the mass. How about the deconstructionist Higher-critics I learned BT from as a yut at OST and USD. Is it that Rome you wanna talk about? Maybe it’s the liberation theologians down in Latin America, is it that Rome? The mass and the sacraments and the priesthood and the belief in the magisterium is what holds you together. And, oh btw, that whole magisterium grounding is pretty tenuous depending on how and if they are gonna to meddle much in contraceptive use and abortion stands and divorce and…………… i’ll have to pull out my old list to remember them all.

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  42. I just checked out the “Called to Communion” website for the first time. A recurring theme is “I came to the conclusion that the Catholic Church was the true church Christ established”. It seems most of the men who write there went from evangelicalism, to being Reformed, to being Catholic. Who/what are they reading that causes them to make this progression? How do you go from being Reformed to abandoning that for a church that the writers of the Reformed Confessions clearly found to be greatly mistaken on many important doctrines? I’m just trying to understand the psychology of it.

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  43. Bryan Cross: Richard, Hart drew this conclusion immediately after a lengthy citation regarding the Catholic canonization process, followed by “In fact, the Protestant convert could likely never recover his former status, given the requirements for canonization and beatification.” Notice the word ‘likely.’ Hart is saying that in the Catholic paradigm, Jason would most likely never be a saint (in the heroic virtue sense).

    RS: Yes, at this point we would agree.

    Bryan Cross: I’m pointing out in reply that in the Catholic paradigm, Jason would, Lord willing, remain a saint in the sense of being in a state of grace. So, in becoming Catholic he wouldn’t lose sainthood in the sense in which all persons in a state of grace are saints, even if he did not become a saint in the heroic virtue sense. But in the Catholic paradigm, becoming a saint in the heroic virtue sense, whether canonized or uncanonized, is open to every Catholic.

    RS: But most importantly, I would think, is the biblical paradigm. It teaches that once a real saint always a real saint (with a nod to C.S. Lewis). A real saint is one that is in covenant with Christ and has been perfected by the sacrifice of Christ and is held in that state by the power of God. A real saint is one that would not and could not be a saint in the canonized sense because to add one work to grace is to make grace no longer to be grace (Rom 11:6). No one that has been perfected by Christ (in the positional sense) would look to add more virtue whether heroic or not to himself or anyone else. In the biblical paradigm, then, one that at some point thought he has been made perfect (in the judicial sense) in Christ and then leaves that understanding to pursue heroic virtue by which to become a saint has fallen from grace (as a way of salvation, Gal 5:4). This means that the person is clearly not a saint in any sense of the word (since grace alone through faith alone can make one a saint in the biblical paradigm) and so could never, ever become a real saint until that person has truly repented.

    Once again, we are back at the hinge of the Reformation on which all turns. Is one declared just by God on the basis of what Christ has accomplished and that is by grace alone or is it based on something in man or what man does to any degree? Is justification based on what Christ has accomplished or not? What did Christ leave undone? What acts can I do to add to the righteousness of Christ?

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  44. Erik, I think you have begun put your finger on it. From where I sit, the Catholic mind is primarily driven by ecclesia (secondarily by scriptura), while the Protestant mind by scriptura (secondarily by ecclesia). This seems to account for Protestant conversion refrains: “I came to the conclusion that the Catholic Church was the true church Christ established.” It’s really something of a mega-shift, or something Stellman himself has referred to as “larger interpretive paradigms.”

    Once the formal principle of the Reformation goes kaput (sola scriptura), it really isn’t too hard to see how everything else begins to unravel, not least the material principle; hen scriptura goes away, ecclesia seems the natural category to rush in and fill in the void. And it seems inevitable that if one still wants to retain his Christian faith then there is really no other place to land than Rome.

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  45. Richard Smith,

    But most importantly, I would think, is the biblical paradigm.

    As D.G. Hart would say, “But to appeal to the Bible instead of man-made creeds is really to appeal [to Richard Smith].”

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

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  46. Bryan Cross, quoting Richard Smith: “But most importantly, I would think, is the biblical paradigm.”

    Bryan Cross himself: As D.G. Hart would say, “But to appeal to the Bible instead of man-made creeds is really to appeal [to Richard Smith].”

    RS: In your view, then, there is no way to appeal to Scripture ourselves (I don’t think Dr. Hart would mean that in the same way you are using it). We either look to the creeds (something someone or a group of people have said in the past) or we look to ourselves. According to your view, evidently, that is all we are left with. The creeds are not inspired and I am not inspired, but the Scriptures were given as the very breath of God (II Tim 3:16) and He still speaks in them (Notice Acts 2:17 where the OT is quoted and it says that “God says” and then quotes more of the OT).

    Isaiah 8:20 To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn.

    Acts 17:11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.

    Acts 18:28 for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ.

    RS: So those who are more noble-minded search the Scriptures daily to see if what the apostle Paul said was true. Paul’s method was to preach Christ and Him crucified and demonstrate that by the Scriptures. I guess I will just have to stick with the biblical paradigm. After all, it is commanded and it is also what the creeds teach. The final authority in all doctrine is to go to the Scriptures.

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  47. Zrim: “From where I sit, the Catholic mind is primarily driven by ecclesia (secondarily by scriptura), while the Protestant mind by scriptura (secondarily by ecclesia).”

    Yes, quite right. When I studied Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica under the Jesuits at Boston College, this was a vital point. The Church is the authority, not Scripture.

    A RCC understanding of Scripture is that it is a horse that needs a rider (an interpreter). For them, the only interpreter is the Church (the Magisterium), even though its pronouncements often contradict both themselves and Scripture. To be a good Catholic, one must assume the Church is the illuminator of Holy Scripture.

    For the Christian, the illuminator of Scripture is the Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ: Jesus said, “I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants.”

    The RCC response to Protestants will always be “then why the differences interpretations?” “Why the many denominations?” But when they say this they ignore their own conflicting interpretations and statements, and almost absurd political conflicts within the RCC. They also slander the perfection of Scripture in claiming if the Holy Spirit were it’s true interpreter, it would lead to a perfect church here on earth. If they reject a separation of justification and sanctification, is it any wonder they insist on a visible here-and-now perfection in men before they will submit to Scripture?

    For formal Protestants, the whole matter ought to be hermeneutics which alone defines the Church and her churches. This why Acts 15 is so central – as Jason Spellman’s post shows when he really misses it’s point (linked to in Darryl’s post). Once he came to view the Scripture as only agreeing with the decision making process in Acts 15 (bad hermeneutics), and thus underneath the “church” gathered in Jerusalem (!), he was a RC in theology.

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  48. Richard and Bryan,

    I think we Reformed folks misunderstand the relationship between confessions, tradition, and Scripture. Confessions/Creeds are NOT distillations of the Biblical text but actually come from a long history of argument and controversy, of which they are the “where we are now.” It’s like having a very long conversation with someone who shares your premises, writing down what you agreed upon every night, and starting from there (not the beginning) the next morning. If someone wants to join your conversation, you can show them the entire history of it (tradition) and what you wrote down (confession/creed).

    Bryan can correct me if I’m wrong, but Catholics regard this development of doctrine throughout history as authoritative in a particularly linear unreformable way, like we find in Newman’s “Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine.” Obviously, I do not share that view, but that’s because–as a Reformed Christian–I regard as fallible the history of doctrinal development, leaving open the possibility of wrong turns, non sequiters, bad reasoning, lack of access to the right texts, ecclesiastical expediency, the existence of practices that might be tolerated but never mandatory, etc.

    I really do want an answer to my last question about the Apostles and the Apostolic Fathers, for I really do think that’s where these discussions always (and must) lead back to.

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  49. Tim, it’s funny how you misspelled Stellman as Spellman.

    And what seems missed in the face of their own conflicting magisterial interpretations is the same thing missed in pointing to fractured Protestant denoms: human sin. But Prots don’t expect a perfect church militant because though the Spirit illumines, abiding sin still obscures.

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  50. Ted says: The RCC response to Protestants will always be “then why the differences interpretations?” “Why the many denominations?”

    To which I respond: Because some people are right and others are wrong.

    Just because you have one huge church in no way proves it is the correct one.

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  51. Jeremy McLellan, I understand that some of the debates might have to do with developments in church history subsequent to the ancient church. But the Reformation was not about methods of interpreting history. It was about the sufficiency of Christ. Did Jesus do everything we need for salvation, or did he need help?

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  52. A question to some of the Catholic men here (and I’m not trying to be snotty): Given the high view you have of the church as an institution and the level of authority with which you give to the priesthood, how do you mentally process the clergy sex abuse scandals? Protestant clergy are certainly guilty of similar offenses (a Reformed minister in my own state has been in the news in the last year for having relations — perhaps even forcible relations — with four women in his congregation). Given Sola Scriptura, however, this seems to be easier for Protestants to process. We just conclude he was either false in his profession of faith or is a true Christian who fell into heinous sin. It doesn’t necessarily diminish our view of the visible church, however. How can Catholics say the same thing? And what if evil men have been key voices in establishing Catholic church tradition and Catholic interpretations of Scripture?

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  53. DG, the Reformation was obviously about the Solas, but there’s just no way one can believe BOTH that 1) the Catholic narrative about the first few hundred years is true and 2) that the Reformers were correct in their schism (and thus that we are correct in remaining separate from the RCC). So again, I’d like some resources on how you would rebut their history.

    Erik, that’s a silly point to make. Catholics would agree that their bishops sin and do evil things all the time. Obviously Judas is the main example, but Pope Honorius was declared a heretic by the 3rd Council of Constantinople. It’s not the holiness of the particular Pope but his “supreme apostolic authority” that makes “ex cathedra” pronouncements binding. Obviously I reject papal infallibility but you’ve got to know what it is first before you do so.

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  54. Jeremy – Wow. If my faith ever depends on the pronouncements of a man – any man – that’s when I head to the golf course on Sunday morning. I would like to hold onto all of that money I am giving.

    I’ll ask a follow-up question – Does the clergy abuse scandal cast doubt on the requirements that priests can not marry? Does this requirement lead to men becoming “bent” or does it attract men who are bent already? Or is it a great requirement?

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  55. Jeremy McLellan: DG, the Reformation was obviously about the Solas, but there’s just no way one can believe BOTH that 1) the Catholic narrative about the first few hundred years is true and 2) that the Reformers were correct in their schism (and thus that we are correct in remaining separate from the RCC). So again, I’d like some resources on how you would rebut their history.

    RS: Again, I am not DG, but on with it. The Reformation was not obviously about the Solas, but asuredly at the heart of it once one begins to look at it. I would argue that the glory of God alone was the real heart of the Reformation if one focuses on Luther and Calvin. But of course that immediately shows how God’s glory is seen in Christ who saves by grace alone.

    I would also argue that the Reformers were not guilty of schism. Rome formally stopped being a Church when it declared the Gospel anathema, though it is true that it had been teaching a false gospel for a long time before that. The Reformers were used by God to recover the true Gospel and continue the true Church. There can be no true Church apart from the Gospel, so when a Church stops preaching the Gospel and stands for a false one, it is impossible to be guilty of schism when one separates from that group. For Protestants now, why would anyone want to go back to a group that has not repented of teaching a false gospel? Until Rome does that, it is not a true Church.

    In light of my previous paragraph, that also shed light on Rome’s view of the first few hundred years. The early Fathers were not all in lockstep and so Rome reads the ones they want in the light that they want. The Reformers read other ones and are in agreement with those. But once again, the real issue is Scripture. What is the biblical Gospel? When one group claims to be virtually inerrant and that its leaders cannot err, when they do err and go off that is thought to be truth and it must be stood by. When that group interprets the Fathers, then that has to be seen as the correct view as well. That is a way that would virtually guarantee people to go astray and lead many down that same path.

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  56. RS: “Rome formally stopped being a Church when it declared the Gospel anathema, though it is true that it had been teaching a false gospel for a long time before that.”

    JM: Yes, but when did it begin teaching a false gospel? Was it RIGHT after the Bible was written, yet while John and Mary were still around? Were the Apostles so terrible at their job that the REAL ecclesiology didn’t emerge until Luther/Calvin/Knox? If not, it’s the Reformed theologian’s responsibility to establish continuity between the Ante-Nicene Fathers and themselves, unless we’re really going to say that there’s a 1500 year gap where good Christian ecclesiology lies dormant.

    RS: “The early Fathers were not all in lockstep and so Rome reads the ones they want in the light that they want. The Reformers read other ones and are in agreement with those.”

    JM: Please explain further with quotations and resources for further reading. I’m not trying to be an ass, but I didn’t think it’d be this hard to get Reformed scholars to pony up an alternative narrative. (I have tried elsewhere with similar success.)

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  57. Jeremy McLellan quoting RS: “Rome formally stopped being a Church when it declared the Gospel anathema, though it is true that it had been teaching a false gospel for a long time before that.”

    JM: Yes, but when did it begin teaching a false gospel? Was it RIGHT after the Bible was written, yet while John and Mary were still around? Were the Apostles so terrible at their job that the REAL ecclesiology didn’t emerge until Luther/Calvin/Knox? If not, it’s the Reformed theologian’s responsibility to establish continuity between the Ante-Nicene Fathers and themselves, unless we’re really going to say that there’s a 1500 year gap where good Christian ecclesiology lies dormant.

    RS: I am not sure that it is the Reformed theologian’s responsiblity to show that. All he has to show is that Trent anathematized the true Gospel in response to the teaching of Luther and Calvin as they set out the teachings of Scripture while they leaned on Augustine. As far as the apostles being terrible at their job, we must remember that before the apostles died there was a battle of the Gospel and a lot of moral issues. It is not that the apostles were so terrible, but perhaps sin is so terrible.

    JM quoting RS: “The early Fathers were not all in lockstep and so Rome reads the ones they want in the light that they want. The Reformers read other ones and are in agreement with those.”

    JM: Please explain further with quotations and resources for further reading. I’m not trying to be an ass, but I didn’t think it’d be this hard to get Reformed scholars to pony up an alternative narrative. (I have tried elsewhere with similar success.)

    RS: Some people don’t have to try to be one, it just comes naturally. By the way, I could have resisted saying that but I didn’t want to. I was also not referring to you, but it struck my humor bone. Anyway, you can go to the site below and simply read how there were three trajectories in Patristic Soteriology. You could also read Life in the Trinity by Donald Fairbairn. You could also do it the hard way by simply comparing Athanasius and Cyril of Alexandria with Origen. These men did not agree on all things. I have been quite enraptured recently by Cyril of Jerusalem on the Gospel of John and find his writings quite breathtaking at times. I have a hard time believing he would be Roman Catholic today.

    Click to access JETS_50-2_289-310_Fairbairn.pdf

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  58. Jeremy,

    … when did it begin teaching a false gospel? Was it RIGHT after the Bible was written, yet while John and Mary were still around? Were the Apostles so terrible at their job that the REAL ecclesiology didn’t emerge until Luther/Calvin/Knox? If not, it’s the Reformed theologian’s responsibility to establish continuity between the Ante-Nicene Fathers and themselves, unless we’re really going to say that there’s a 1500 year gap where good Christian ecclesiology lies dormant.

    As Dr. Strange demonstrated to you on the Puritan Board, the Reformed sometimes find themselves in the position of having to say that the early fathers, almost immediately after the death of the apostles (and in some cases even sooner), began distorting Paul’s message of grace and smuggling in pagan ideas and practices into the church. The problem with this theory (one of them anyway) is the fact that these were the very same men who were so conservative as to refuse to light a candle to Caesar, choosing horrific deaths instead of capitulating to the world. Are we really to believe that these men were simultaneously willing to die for their faith, despite deliberately distorting it?

    If you think about it, this position is only a hair’s breath from the liberalism that says that Jesus preached a good message that his disciples corrupted (think Jesus Seminar). But rather than the first generation blowing it (Peter, James, and John) it was the second generation who mucked it all up (Clement, Ignatius, Irenaeus). It just seems much more plausible to me that Jesus handed on a message to the Twelve, who handed it on intact to those who succeeded them.

    Plus, I really do think that the Catholic gospel that I outline in my CTC piece (if you can still locate it) is miles closer to the NT data than imputation of alien righteousness. But that’s a discussion for another day.

    You’re asking good questions, keep it up.

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  59. JJS: As Dr. Strange demonstrated to you on the Puritan Board, the Reformed sometimes find themselves in the position of having to say that the early fathers, almost immediately after the death of the apostles (and in some cases even sooner), began distorting Paul’s message of grace and smuggling in pagan ideas and practices into the church. The problem with this theory (one of them anyway) is the fact that these were the very same men who were so conservative as to refuse to light a candle to Caesar, choosing horrific deaths instead of capitulating to the world. Are we really to believe that these men were simultaneously willing to die for their faith, despite deliberately distorting it?

    RS: But Paul was quite clear that in his own day there those who were distorting the Gospel and that to their own destruction. What about the chuches (plural) in the book of Revelation? Paul had to confront Peter to his face and was very clear that if anyone preached a Gospel different than he did that person was to be eternally cursed. He also said in that same book that if a person tried to be justified by law that person had fallen from grace (as a way of salvation). If a person desires to be justified by God, then a person is either justified by grace alone or grace plus something provided by themselves.

    JJS: If you think about it, this position is only a hair’s breath from the liberalism that says that Jesus preached a good message that his disciples corrupted (think Jesus Seminar). But rather than the first generation blowing it (Peter, James, and John) it was the second generation who mucked it all up (Clement, Ignatius, Irenaeus). It just seems much more plausible to me that Jesus handed on a message to the Twelve, who handed it on intact to those who succeeded them.

    RS: But if you go to Scripture rather than just think about it, you will see that the position you are against is biblical. It is not that the apostles or the second generation were the real problem as such, it was that sin is so prevalent. While it may seem more plausible that Jesus handed a message to the Twelve, the men then and men now are utterly and completely dependent on the Holy Spirit for insight. There is no truth that can just be handed down apart from the understanding that the Spirit gives.

    JJS: Plus, I really do think that the Catholic gospel that I outline in my CTC piece (if you can still locate it) is miles closer to the NT data than imputation of alien righteousness. But that’s a discussion for another day.

    RS: There is no true Gospel apart from the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ if one will read the Bible rather than just think about it.

    Romans 4:1 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. 5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

    RS: On the basis of what righteousness was Abraham declared just or righteous? Verse 4 tells us that to the prson who works his wage is not “credited” as a favor but it is due to the person. Verse 5 says clearly that it is the person who does not work but, notice this, believes in HIm who justifies the ungodly. God justifies the ungodly who do not work, but instead they have faith and as such they are “credited” with righteousness. Then verse 6 sets it out with even more clarity. The man is blessed to whom God “credits” righteousness apart from works.

    There is no Gospel of grace that will fit in the Catholic system of thinking. You have to resort to hermeneutical gymnastics to get around the passage above. That may be what you want since it will leave you room to boast (Rom 4:2), but the true Gospel of grace alone leaves no room for boasting other than in the cross and the imputed righteousness of Christ.

    JJS: You’re asking good questions, keep it up.

    RS: He is asking dangerous questions.

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  60. JJS:

    Don’t compliment me! They’ll revoke my Genevan passport! I hope you are doing well through all this, and yes my RSS Feed snagged your post before it was deleted. As for the Puritan Board, Dr. Strange(love?) may have said it elsewhere, but it was Rich and Ruben who assumed a kind of creation/fall view of early Church History.

    Though I have very pointed criticisms of the Roman Catholic narrative of doctrinal development, such as their own view of a pure original deposit, I am very concerned that 95% of the responses to your conversion (that I’ve read) have very little to do with anything approaching the reality of Roman Catholicism or your stated intentions. My personal interactions with Catholicism have mostly been through living at a L’Arche for three years with a RC Notre Dame grad student. I have no idea how anything Reformed folks say about RC applies to anyone I have met, much less saints (!) like Jean Vanier.

    That is to say, I believe there are plenty of criticisms available that strike at the foundations of what the RCC says about itself, but I have yet to hear any of them articulated in response to your conversion. Instead, they almost intentionally misrepresent Roman Catholicism because they expect their Reformed listeners will let it slide.

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  61. JJS: You’re asking good questions, keep it up.

    RS: One reason that he is not asking good questions is that it appears that they are coming from a mind that wants to believe something, I have talked to a few people who were thinking of converting from one denomination to another and rarely are they interested in hearing the answer to a question. They want to do something and so they simply heard what they want to hear. It can be pride, it can be a desire to be different, it can be that I want to be out of where I am, or for a host of reasons. Below are four biblical reasons of why people will not hear the Scriptures and will plunge themselves off into Roman Catholicism and a false Gospel.

    John 5:38 “You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent.

    John 5:44 “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?

    John 8:45 “But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me.

    John 10:26 “But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep.

    RS: One, regardless of a person’s level of education or religious training, a person does not have His word abiding in them. Two, when people seek their own glory and honor (no one will admit that) rather than truly seek the glory of God out of love for God. Three, people don’t believe because someone speaks the truth to them. Four, some don’t believe because they are not His sheep. Asking questions can be a way to understand the truth, but asking questions can be nothing more than a rationalist trying to reason his way away from the Gospel for a variety of reasons. The Gospel of the justification of sinners by grace alone through faith alone to the glory of God alone is a Gospel that is biblical and cuts all pride and glory from sinners. Those who desire some glory and some honor will not hear it. Those who desire to go to Rome for some reason will not hear it. But the truth is the truth and to deny the Gospel is to fall from grace. My hope is that people will read the grave warnings listed in Hebrews 6 and 10 so that they will not be those on whom the truth of those warnings will fall upon. Those are severe warnings, but they are true.

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  62. Jeremy McLellan: Though I have very pointed criticisms of the Roman Catholic narrative of doctrinal development, such as their own view of a pure original deposit, I am very concerned that 95% of the responses to your conversion (that I’ve read) have very little to do with anything approaching the reality of Roman Catholicism or your stated intentions. My personal interactions with Catholicism have mostly been through living at a L’Arche for three years with a RC Notre Dame grad student. I have no idea how anything Reformed folks say about RC applies to anyone I have met, much less saints (!) like Jean Vanier.

    That is to say, I believe there are plenty of criticisms available that strike at the foundations of what the RCC says about itself, but I have yet to hear any of them articulated in response to your conversion. Instead, they almost intentionally misrepresent Roman Catholicism because they expect their Reformed listeners will let it slide.

    RS: You might want to remember that Rome has an official position. Arguments against Rome’s official positions may not apply to anyone you have met, but people you have met should believe them if they are going to claim to be Roman Catholics. While Rome claims to be unified, it really isn’t, but that does not mean that arguments against the official position are misrepresentations of Roman Catholicism.

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  63. I’m asking dangerous questions? Really? Should I not ask them? Who died and made you Leo X?

    It seems like the helpful thing to do would be to 1) Answer them, 2) Give me something to read that might answer them, or 3) if my questions are dangerous, show me how my questions come from false presuppositions.

    You have done #2 (thank you btw I will read them) and kinda done #1 by asserting a very diverse original community that had an eclectic theology (ecclesiology too though?) but I don’t see how you’ve done #3, which to me is the only way that my questions could be dangerous. Typically, dangerous questions are those that have false premises, so that in trying to answer them, I’d be subtly convincing myself of falsehood by relying on it. (Like asking, when did the Jews create the myth of a historical Moses?)

    There are very real differences between Reformed and Roman Catholic theology. We don’t need to make stuff up about Jason in order to figure out the nature and source of the disagreements. My own views haven’t changed a bit on Reformed theology, though after all this I might need to revisit my beliefs about Reformed men.

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  64. Jeremy McLellan: I’m asking dangerous questions? Really? Should I not ask them? Who died and made you Leo X?

    RS: A very interesting comment.

    RS quoting Jeremy: “but there’s just no way one can believe BOTH that 1) the Catholic narrative about the first few hundred years is true and 2) that the Reformers were correct in their schism (and thus that we are correct in remaining separate from the RCC). So again, I’d like some resources on how you would rebut their history.”

    RS: The reason that I think these are dangerous questions is not because I am Leo X. It is because you have set the question out in such a way that the deck is stacked. Secondly, you want resources to rebut their history. I would hope that at some point you would want to rebut their theology. The issues of why we should not return to Rome do not rest on their history, but on the Gospel. Yes, I think you are asking dangerous questions because you are looking for answers in the wrong places.

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  65. RS: “One reason that he is not asking good questions is that it appears that they are coming from a mind that wants to believe something.”

    JM: You have no idea what you are talking about. I flatly deny the teachings of the Roman Catholic church (summarized nicely in their catechism) concerning everything the WCF condemns. However, I think the weakest point of Reformed apologetics is rebutting the Catholic belief in a linear development of Christian doctrine and ecclesiology from the Apostles to the Ante-Nicene Fathers…all the way to the Council of Trent. This is by far the strongest argument for Roman Catholicism, out of which all the other disagreements flow.

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  66. Jeremy McLellan quoting RS: “One reason that he is not asking good questions is that it appears that they are coming from a mind that wants to believe something.”

    RS: Notice that I said that “it appears.” The question you asked above certainly appeared to have a stacked deck and so it appears that you want to believe something. I did not, however, say what you wanted to believe. I don’t know what you want to believe and why you want to believe it, but when people stack the deck in a question, they want to believe something. Maybe you are different than that.

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  67. RS: “It is because you have set the question out in such a way that the deck is stacked. Secondly, you want resources to rebut their history. I would hope that at some point you would want to rebut their theology. The issues of why we should not return to Rome do not rest on their history, but on the Gospel. Yes, I think you are asking dangerous questions because you are looking for answers in the wrong places.”

    JM: I am used to being given the benefit of the doubt regarding my orthodoxy, and yes I would obviously rebut their theology. But I would do this using Scripture as the only infallible authority through which the Holy Spirit continually calls its church to repent and correct false doctrine…a hermeneutic that Catholics do not accept because of their understanding of the founding of the church and the transmission of oral tradition from the Apostles to the Apostolic Fathers. So again, we are left with history.

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  68. Jeremy McLellan: I am used to being given the benefit of the doubt regarding my orthodoxy, and yes I would obviously rebut their theology. But I would do this using Scripture as the only infallible authority through which the Holy Spirit continually calls its church to repent and correct false doctrine…a hermeneutic that Catholics do not accept because of their understanding of the founding of the church and the transmission of oral tradition from the Apostles to the Apostolic Fathers. So again, we are left with history.

    RS: But are we really only left with history? God can break hard hearts with His word and use it to regenerate those whom He pleases. Luke 16:31 gives us another thought as well: “But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.'” If they will not be persuaded if someone rises from the dead, I don’t think they will believe over differing views of history. Not to mention that the Scribes and Pharisees had a few hundred years of history on their side and thought that they had a few thousand. Jesus simply told them that the erred because they didn’t know the Scriptures.

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  69. RS: But are we really only left with history? God can break hard hearts with His word and use it to regenerate those whom He pleases. Luke 16:31 gives us another thought as well: “But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’” If they will not be persuaded if someone rises from the dead, I don’t think they will believe over differing views of history. Not to mention that the Scribes and Pharisees had a few hundred years of history on their side and thought that they had a few thousand. Jesus simply told them that the erred because they didn’t know the Scriptures.

    JM: Very good points, but to be honest I’m mostly interested not in apologetics (to call Jason back, for instance, by delivering a knockout blow to his view of the early church) but just as a way of understanding the development of Christianity so that I can help other Reformed believers (including myself) to understand their doctrinal history. I’ll leave Jason to people who know him as more than an occasion to think about history and theology (sorry Jason!).

    Elsewhere, I was suggested Litfin’s “Getting to Know the Church Fathers: An Evangelical Introduction,” which I will hopefully be able to read tomorrow.

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  70. Jeremy,

    You wrote:

    As for the Puritan Board, Dr. Strange(love?) may have said it elsewhere, but it was Rich and Ruben who assumed a kind of creation/fall view of early Church History.

    Here is what I had in mind:

    I trust that you know with the Apostolic Fathers we are talking about only the most immediate churchmen after the close of the apostolic era. We’re talking, say 95-140 (A.D.), men like Clement, Polycarp, Ignatius. It is the case that their writings are strikingly different than that of the NT (in terms of spiritual power, clarity, and authority), being often quite moralistic, lacking in grace; notwithstanding, these are our fathers who are trying to understand the momentous thing that has just happened. They get that Jesus is Lord and that what He did saved us. That’s pretty momentous. But there are many other things that they are not clear about. Nobody will be clear about grace like Paul until Augustine and then he gets some things about justification unclear.

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  71. Richard,

    About Rom. 4:1ff, you wrote:

    You have to resort to hermeneutical gymnastics to get around the passage above.

    The passage in question says that “Abraham believed God, and his faith was counted as righteousness.”

    Here’s what I think that passage means: “Abraham believed God, and his faith was counted as righteousness.”

    Here’s what you think it means: “Abraham believed God, but his faith was not counted as righteousness, but instead was an instrument whereby he received an alien righteounsess.”

    Remember: you gotta stretch before the gymnastics or you’ll pull a hammy!

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  72. JJS,

    Right I didn’t see that because I hadn’t clicked to Page 2 yet. Luther said the same thing about the Church Fathers. I’ll read the few books I’ve been suggested, but personally, I’m not really interested in if they were of one mind on the Trinity or the Person of Christ, but if they were of one mind on the relationship between the church, tradition, and scripture. I know the Reformed come-back is that apostolic authority was always based on fidelity to apostolic doctrine (we all agree on that) and that the RCC turned away from the latter in the anathemas of the Reformation.

    Anyway, off to bed. Thanks to all who answered my questions.

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  73. JJS: Richard, About Rom. 4:1ff, you wrote: “You have to resort to hermeneutical gymnastics to get around the passage above.”

    JJS: The passage in question says that “Abraham believed God, and his faith was counted as righteousness.”

    Here’s what I think that passage means: “Abraham believed God, and his faith was counted as righteousness.”

    Here’s what you think it means: “Abraham believed God, but his faith was not counted as righteousness, but instead was an instrument whereby he received an alien righteounsess.”

    Remember: you gotta stretch before the gymnastics or you’ll pull a hammy!

    RS: But don’t forget that the text very clearly says that this is apart from any and all works. Romans 4:16 says that it is by faith in order that it may be by grace. So faith cannot be a work of the human being and as such it must be that faith receives grace. So the soul that has faith is the soul that receives grace. The soul that has faith is the soul that is united to Christ and as such faith can be spoken of in such a way that has reference to Christ. The text is also clear that this righteousness is credited by God and it is credited to those who don’t work. You are stretching way too far and may be grabbing toward that hammy even now.

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  74. It’s funny (sad at same time) how the Called to Communion website has as on it’s home page an article that mentions the interviewer specifically as a PCA minister interviewing an OPC minister and his wife on their conversion. Then underneath, a picture of a former Westminster Seminary CA student. Roman Catholics love to showcase their spoils.

    Darryl, maybe the student was your student and the OPC minister is someone you knew from Pennsylvania? I ask because I think your from Penn.

    Maybe Stellman’s announcement was removed because someone mistimed the release of a new convert?

    Here is a portion from a blog entry at aomin.org, and I hope James White debates Stellman:

    Just a few weeks ago I leaned over and looked Jason in the eye. He was sitting on the couch in my office, a matter of feet from where I am sitting right now. I’m sure he noted with some humor my lava lamps, which would have been directly behind me as I spoke. “If you are going to Rome, go all the way. Mary, Popes, the whole nine yards. Then debate me on it.” He laughed.

    As I sadly read the above cited words I could not help but shake my head. Jason knows the Apostles did not teach what Rome teaches on so many things. He knows there wasn’t a single person at Nicea who believes what Rome requires him to believe de fide today, and that he has to buy into a massively complex, easily challenged house of philosophical cards to keep the Roman authority system standing. I do not understand what drives the kind of agnosticism about the authority of God’s Word that has driven him into a system that offers no peace and no finished work of Christ. He refused to defend Romanism when we talked, he only wanted to pose hypotheticals that Rome has no meaningful answer to. But in any case, I can report with honesty that I gave it to him straight: if he went to Rome, he was abandoning the gospel, abandoning his call, abandoning all that is good and right and just and true, for a man-made system of endless penances, alter Christi, non-perfecting sacrifices, satis passio, and enough mythical dogmas about Mary to make the devotees of the Queen of Heaven blush. It will not satisfy, it will leave him empty and forlorn, once that initial “honeymoon” phase is over. When he sees it from the inside, when the glow of the New Convert Syndrome wears off, he will see he has accomplished nothing outside of the destruction of his own ministry and the trust others had placed in him. It is sad to see, but he will have to testify: I warned him clearly, and without compromise. I even asked him, “Has anyone else spoken to you with as much passion?” “No” was his reply.

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  75. Jeremy, I don’t buy your either/or. For one, I remain pretty skeptical about most polemical readings of the early church (whether Protestant or Roman). History is a demanding mistress and it rarely conforms to our purposes. Rome’s primacy was late (like the 12th or 13th centuries). That hardly justifies Roman Catholicism as the pure preserver of antiquity.

    And for the record, Protestants did not separate themselves from Rome. They attempted to reform local churches, gained support from sympathetic (and perhaps self-interested) magistrates, and Rome responded with condemnation. Western Christianity was fairly fluid between 1520 and 1580 and then all side hardened their views, making reconciliation difficult if not impossible.

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  76. Jason, Jesus handed it to the apostles and they handed it on from there intact? Really? Then why was Paul having to put out so many doctrinal fires in churches where he himself had taught what Christ taught. If Judaizing was a problem in Asia Minor, chances are it was a problem across the centuries and knew no geographical boundaries. Judaizing lives, right? Wasn’t that part of the point of the Leithart trial?

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  77. Jeremy, some of us are not making up points against Jason. Some of us believe that either Christ and his righteousness is sufficient for sinners or they aren’t. For all of Jason’s claims to be true to the biblical data, I’m not sure his position really deals with the data of human sin and God’s holiness. Even Rome knows that infused righteousness won’t prevail in the end, hence the need for some kind of purgation. You may not think the Reformers got the Bible right on justification. But if they didn’t we’re all screwed. I believe in justification by faith alone, not because of the history, but for comfort.

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  78. Jason, at least Protestants are still competing in the hermeneutical gymnastics. I’ve spent a lot of time lately with conservative RCs and practically all I hear about is the dignity of the human person. George Weigel recently put it this way:

    The Church has no special expertise in the technicalities of public policy; and in any event, the Church ought never have measured “social justice” by budget line-items. What the Church knows is the truth about the human person, and that truth includes the importance of responsibility, honesty, self-reliance, and solidarity. Those just happen to be virtues essential to the free, dynamic, and compassionate societies that moral reason and Catholic social doctrine call us to build in the post-welfare state future.

    Sorry, but a lot of non-believers know about the human person. I want to know about Jesus. Human dignity is important but it’s provisional, especially when it comes to judgment day.

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  79. God did not say to Abraham—if you believe, then I will bless you. God said, I will bless you without cause, (not only so that you believe but also) so that in your offspring there will be one who will bring in the righteousness for the elect alone required by the law.

    The “it” which was imputed by God to Abraham is the obedient bloody death of Abraham’s seed Jesus Christ for the elect alone.

    Romans 4:24-25 “IT will be counted to us who believe in Him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised up for our justification.”

    1. Christ and His death are the IT. Faith is not the IT. Christ and His death are the object of faith. But Christ and His death are the IT credited by God. This legal application of the accomplished atonement is not done by the Holy Spirit.

    2. We can distinguish but never separate Christ’s person and work. Also we can distinguish but never separate Christ’s death and his resurrection. We can also distinguish between imputation and the work of the Spirit. The Spirit gives faith but faith is not imputed. Faith in the gospel is a result of imputation.

    3. God imputes according to truth. God imputes righteousness as righteousness! a. The righteousness counted as righteousness is not our righteousness (not our works of faith) but legally “transferred” to us when Christ marries us, so that what is His is still His but now ours also. b. Justification is not the righteousness itself, but the legal result when God imputes the righteousness to the elect.

    4. Imputation therefore means two different things. One, the transfer, the legal sharing of what belongs to another. Two, the declaration. God is justified, declared to be just, without transfer. God is imputed to be just because God is just. But the ungodly elect are justified when God declares them righteous on the basis of transferred righteousness.

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  80. Outside of the CTC guys. Who quite frankly are a group unto themselves. RC’s don’t organize themselves around the word of tradition or the word of scripture. They are the Mass and all the attendant parts. What CTC is proferring is their own particular brand of RC, which is fine to an extent, Rome is an enormous tent. If you’d like a number of priests, brothers, monastic types and a few nuns I still know to confirm that, and set up some interviews to that effect, I can probably still arrange that.

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  81. With apologies for the long quote, Warfield said something about RC that I find to be striking and plausible:

    “One of the reasons why we have chosen this particular incident for discussion lies in the illustration which it supplies of the taking over into Christianity of a heathen legend bodily. In this case it is only a little isolated story which is in question. But the process went on on the largest scale. Every religious possession the heathen had, indeed, the Christians, it may be said broadly, transferred to themselves and made their own. As one of the results the whole body of heathen legends, in one way, or another, reproduced themselves on Christian ground. The remarkable studies of the Christian legends which Heinrich Guenter has given us 24[Legenden-Studien, 1906; Die christliche Legende des Abendlandes, 1910], enable us to assure ourselves of the fact of this transference, and to observe its process in the large. On sketching the legendary material found in the pagan writers, he exclaims 25[Die christliche Legende, usw., p. 69]: “After this survey it will be seen that there is not much left for the Middle Ages to invent. They only present the same ideas in variations and Christianized forms, and perhaps also expanded on one side or another. There is no doubt as to the agreement of the conceptions.” “With the sixth century,” he says again 26[Pp. 3, 4], “we find the whole ancient system of legends Christianized, not only as anonymous and unlocalized vagrants, but more and more condensed, in a unitary picture, into a logical group of conceptions, and connected with real relations of historical personalities, whose historical figures they overlie. . . . The transference of the legend became now the chief thing, the saint of history gave way to that of the popular desire.” “Hellenism-Pythagoreanism-Neo-Platonism- Christian Middle Ages,”-thus he sums up 27[P. 117]-“the parallelism of these has made it very clear that the legend in the grotesque forms of a Nicholas Peregrinus or Keivinos or of the Mary legend is not a specifically Christian thing.” In one word, what we find, when we cast our eye over the whole body of Christian legends, growing up from the third century down through the Middle Ages, is merely a reproduction, in Christian form, of the motives, and even the very incidents, which already meet us in the legends of heathendom.”

    When I see accounts of parading a dead person’s (saint’s) body through a congregation and consider the paralells between Greek/Roman gods and the jurisdictions of the saints this account seems to fit quite well.

    What is the chain of logic by which a person ends up adopting such beliefs? Is it simply a matter of believing what The Church says?

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  82. To begin to understand Genesis 15:6, we need to know that “as righteousness” should be translated “unto righteousness”. (See Robert Haldane’s commentary, Banner of Truth). That’s important to see, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t explain the imputation.

    Whether we see imputation as the transfer of something, or if we see imputation as the declaration of something (without a transfer, or after a transfer), what is the “it” which is being imputed? No matter if it is not credited as righteousness but only unto righteousness, what is “it” and why is God imputing “it”? “It” is not faith alone. God imputes the righteousness revealed in the gospel .

    “Faith” in Galatians 3:5-8 (which quotes Gen 15:6) is defined in two ways: not by works of the law, and the gospel preached to Abraham. God did establish a conditional covenant with Abraham. In Genesis 17, he warned that anybody not circumcised would be cut off from the covenant. But that conditional covenant with Abraham is not the gospel God preached to Abraham.

    Luther reminds us that to have faith is to have Christ indwelling, and tells us that God really is pleased with the faith God has given us, and this faith is really righteous in God’s sight. But Luther does not explain how this righteous faith (produced by God in the water of regeneration, he thought) perfectly satisfied the law of God .

    Luther also taught that, if you were a sinner, Christ had died for you. This means that Luther’s message cannot be that the elect were saved by Christ’s death alone. John Murray not only taught that Christ died in some sense only for the elect, but also taught that faith alone for nine reasons could not be the righteousness imputed. I like his reasons, and you can look them up in his commentary on Romans.

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  83. BAVINCK, ON FAITH AND JUSTIFICATION p 198-

    “The Lord, when He calls, justifies, and glorifies, does nothing other than to declare his election;” it is the elect who are justified. For that reason, it is entirely correct to say that Calvin never weakens either the objective atonement of Christ or the benefit of justification; but nevertheless, his perspective results in the righteousness of Christ being presented to us much more as a gift bestowed by God than as something which we accept through faith. The objective gift precedes the subjective acceptance.

    “Under the influence of Socinianism and Remonstrantism, Cartesianism and Amyraldianism, there developed the neonomiam representation of the order of redemption which made forgiveness of sins and eternal life dependent on faith and obedience which man had to perform in accordance with the new law of the gospel. Parallel with this development, Pietism and Methodism arose which, with all their differences, also shifted the emphasis to the subject, and which either demanded a long experience or a sudden conversion as a condition for obtaining salvation.

    As a reaction against this came the development of anti-neonomianism, which had justification precede faith, and antinomianism which reduced justification to God’s eternal love. Reformed theologians usually tried to avoid both extremes, and for that purpose soon made use of the distinction between “active” and “passive justification.” This distinction is not found in the reformers; as a rule they speak of justification in a “concrete sense.” They do not treat of a justification from eternity, or of justification in the resurrection of Christ, or in the gospel, or before or after faith, but combine everything in a single concept.

    Efforts were made to keep both elements as close together as possible, while accepting only a logical and not a temporal distinction. However, even then, there were those who objected to this distinction inasmuch as the gospel mentions no names and does not say to anyone, personally: Your sins have been forgiven. Therefore it is not proper for any man to take as his starting point the belief that his sins have been forgiven.

    The atonement of Christ is particular rather than universal. The preacher of the gospel can assure no one that his sins have been forgiven since he does not know who the elect are; and the man who hears the gospel is neither able nor permitted to believe this, inasmuch as he cannot be aware of his election prior to and without faith. As a result, the conclusion appeared rather obvious that the boldness to know one’s sins to have been forgiven and to have assurance of eternal salvation only came about after one has fled unto Jesus in faith.

    But in this manner the ground of justification shifted once again from God to man, from the righteousness of Christ to saving faith; from the gospel to the law. If, then, not faith in its quality and activity, but the imputed righteousness of Christ is the ground of our justification, the question arises with all the more emphasis: What is then the place of faith in this benefit? Does imputation take place in the death or resurrection of Christ, in the preaching of the gospel, prior to, or at the same time as, or after faith?

    The first position was asserted by the real antinomians, such as Pontiaan van Hattem and his followers. According to them justification was nothing else than the love of God which is not concerned about the sins of man, which does not require atonement in Christ, and which only needs to be proclaimed in order to enable man to believe. Faith is nothing but a renouncing of the error that God is angry and a realization that God is eternal love.

    This school of thought should be distinguished sharply from the views of the so-called antineonomians who opposed the change of the gospel into a new law as well as the idea that faith was a co-operating factor in our justification, and who from this perspective sometimes came to confess an eternal justification. This doctrine of eternal justification contains a valuable truth which cannot and may not be denied by anyone who is Reformed. Election is from eternity. The “counsel of redemption” which includes the substitution of the Mediator for his people is from eternity.

    However, that is no reason to recommend speaking of eternal justification. If one says that “justification as an act immanent in God” must of necessity be eternal, then it should be remembered that taken in that sense everything, including creation, incarnation, atonement, calling, regeneration, is eternal. Whoever would speak of an eternal creation would give cause for great misunderstanding. Besides, the proponents of this view back off themselves, when, out of the fear of antinomianism, they assert strongly that eternal justification is not the only, full, and complete justification, but that it has a tendency and purpose to realise itself outwardly. This amounts really to the usual distinction between the decree and its execution.

    Under the influence of Arminian and Salmurian theology, and of Pietism and Rationalism, the understanding of this actual justification gradually became that man had to believe and repent first, that thereafter God in heaven, in “the court of heaven,” sitting in judgment, acquitted the believer because of his faith in Christ.

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  84. MM,

    Exactly. At some point, when the Deposit says essentially everything, it really says nothing and you do eventually end up saying; ‘ I believe what the church believes’ And so the Mass and the pageantry all that creates the form becomes the tie that binds, the tie that unites, not somebodies cherry picking and reorganization of the deposit to make argument for their cause. And it’s simply dishonest and/or naive to talk about the magisterium positions as much more than political appointees and functions.

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  85. mcmark: Sorry, I am not going to keep posting and posting, but I left off Bavinck’s punchline. If we are going to use the “instrumental” word, we need to think carefully about what we mean by it.

    Bavinck:”It is possible for us to conceive of faith at the same time as a receptive organ and as an active force. If justification in every respect comes about after faith, faith becomes a condition, an activity, which must be performed by man beforehand, and it cannot be purely receptive. But if the righteousness, on the ground of which we are justified, lies wholly outside of us in Christ Jesus, then faith is not a “material cause” or a “formal cause.”

    “Faith is not even a condition or instrument of justification, for it stands in relation to justification not as, for example, the eye to seeing or the ear to hearing. Faith is not a condition, upon which, nor an instrument or organ, through which we receive this benefit, but it is the acceptance itself of Christ and all his benefits, as He presents Himself to us through word and Spirit.

    “Faith is therefore not an instrument in the proper sense, of which man makes use in order to accept Christ, but it is a sure knowledge and a solid confidence which the Holy Spirit works in the heart and through which He persuades and assures man that he, not withstanding all his sins, has part in Christ and in all his benefits.”

    “This faith FORMS A CONTRAST WITH WORKS. It also stands opposed to the works of faith (infused righteousness, obedience, love) the moment these are to any degree viewed as the cause of justification, as forming as a whole or in part that righteousness on the ground of which God justifies us; for that is Christ and Christ alone; faith itself is not the ground of justification and thus also neither are the good works which come forth from it.”

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  86. Erik wrote, “Just because you have one huge church in no way proves it is the correct one.”

    The RCC is not one huge church (as I guess you would agree). The differences in theology (faith) between RCC groups are as far apart as liberal and conservative denominations. Especially in American delicatessen Catholicism. Converts to Catholicism want to minimize the differences, but they are far, far apart. Their common ground is one: the pope. And they don’t even agree on his authority, esp. vis-a-vis the College of Cardinals.

    More importantly, when we go to Scripture, we don’t see anything of episcopal polity in the mind of Christ or in the apostles (oh please, oh please, someone challenge with verses).

    The claim that they are “one church” is vapor on paper.

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  87. The whole premise behind the “Called to Communion” site is a bit off. Imagine a website for men who had left their wives and married another woman. If the previous wife was a harlot you would think the men would be discrete about the new marriage because having been married to a harlot is a bit embarassing (think the William H. Macy character – “Little Bill” – in “Boogie Nights”). If the previous wife was a righteous woman you would also be discrete because leaving her would reflect poorly on the man. Either way, why would you trumpet the new marriage? Just move on quietly.

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  88. Bryan,

    You got some clanging brass going on if you wanna call out protestants, particulary of the reformed confessional kind for consumerism and cafeteria-style, a la cart eating. WOW.

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  89. Bryan, puh-leeze. When you switch to Rome it is a sacred movement. When I give my reasons for REMAINING a Protestant, you call me a consumer. Sorry, but your sovereign choice allowed you to become a Roman Catholic (unless of course the Spanish Inquisition paid you a visit).

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  90. D.G.,

    Statements about me don’t change the fact that you framed your position as the result of a choice of comfort over history, as if the history of the doctrine (e.g. whether it was absent for 1500 years) is irrelevant to the orthodoxy of a doctrine, and as if the comfort that doctrine provides determines its ‘orthodoxy.’

    Subsequently you said:

    “If Judaizing was a problem in Asia Minor, chances are it was a problem across the centuries and knew no geographical boundaries.

    There’s the non sequitur. Just because Judaizing was a problem in some *particular Churches,* it does not follow that ecclesial deism is true of the visible Catholic Church.

    Jeremy, the warning that your questions are “dangerous” is intended to get you to take the blue pill.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

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  91. Bryan, but you are choosing history over the reality of human sin and God’s righteousness. And my point about Judaizing being a problem for the Galatian was not a shot against Rome. It was a jab at a certain reading of history. Judaizing afflicts Protestantism as much as it afflicts Rome. Which makes all the more remarkable Jason’s claim that it makes sense that the next generation after the apostles would get everything right.

    BTW, do you ever respond without links?

    In the blood of Christ,
    dgh

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  92. Sean,
    Why do y’all think I’m at a crossroads or something? I just find the RCC claims about history damning IF it’s true. I reject all they currently teach that’s distinctive. Just show that the 1500 year gap is a lie or explain why it doesn’t matter. If I take any pills after this conversation, it’ll be Xanax.

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  93. Jeremy,

    I don’t necessarily, I just was responding in kind to Bryan. I was gonna provide a link to this supposed unanimity of doctrinal, political and magesterial submission unity nonsense that the CTC crowd claims and then tries to paint protestantism as this rogue, autonomous sect. But, just look up the Network which represents roughly 80% of all catholic nuns and sisters, and you’ll get just a small snapshot of the variety of consecrated practice that goes on underneath the tent.

    They have the mass, that’s about the extent of it.

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  94. NIce try, Bryan.

    I don’t fault you for moving from Pentecostalism to Reformed to Anglican to RC because it was “ecclesial consumerism,” but because it was wrong. I agree that there is such a thing as “ecclesial consumerism,” particularly in a society like ours, but I never fault someone for refusing to rest short of the truth.

    You passed by the truth and didn’t recognize it. Think that’s an unlikely event? Look at the Jews in Christ’s day. Apart from the Spirit’s working, the truest expression of the faith fails to captivate.

    And what Dr. Hart meant by “comfort” is an old Christian expression (pre-Reformation even) of the heart at rest (no pun intended) in God. Darryl believes, of course, in JBFA because the Bible teaches it and the church confesses it, and it provides comfort in his heart and life. God’s Spirit has enabled us to see and receive His free gift of salvation. The only comfort we have as we face eternity is the work of Christ on our behalf–in both his active and passive obedience– without which we have no hope, because we are miserable sinners and Christ is our Savior, from first to last–it’s truly all of grace.

    You passed by Christ and replaced him with the church: you passed by churches that see the means of grace as just that–means–and not an end in itself, as does the sacerdotalism of Rome. Rome puts all its stress on the visible church. We put our hope in God. If what you see is what you get, there’s Rome and welcome to it.

    It’s never to late to come back to the only true home for the heart: Christ, as he is offered in the preaching of the gospel and the administration of the sacraments; Christ, as He calls us to Himself in the words of Matthew 11:28-30. Come with all your heavy burdens that Rome cannot help you with and find rest in Christ.

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  95. D.G.

    Bryan, but you are choosing history over the reality of human sin and God’s righteousness.

    That’s just it. What if our understanding of human sin and God’s righteousness is to be informed by the way the Church Fathers and councils explicated it in history? If so, then your claim just quoted is a question-begging claim, because it presupposes that the Tradition embodied in history ought not inform our present understanding of the meaning and interpretation of Scripture. I affirm the reality of human sin and God’s righteousness. But my understanding of human sin and God’s righteousness is informed by the Tradition (as I explain in “Why John Calvin did not Recognize the Distinction Between Mortal and Venial Sin.”)

    BTW, do you ever respond without links?

    If their content is true, then you have nothing to fear if you love the truth more than comfort. But if their content is false, then you have an opportunity to expose their falsehood, and show JJS (and other Reformed men contemplating such a move) where he and other men such as myself went wrong.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

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  96. Bryan Cross: Jeremy, the warning that your questions are “dangerous” is intended to get you to take the blue pill.

    RS: No, it was intended to warn him of questions that when they are framed in such a way as to stack the deck. There is usually a person stacks the deck with questions like that. But as far as the blue pill goes, sir, remember that apart from taking the right pill you are living in a matrix that is using you as a slave for its own purposes. Kind of like Ephesians 2: ” in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.”

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  97. Jeremy, as I say, history is no one’s friend. If you think history is going to vindicate either side, then you haven’t studied much history. Sorry if that sounds self-serving coming from a historian. But believe me, history is one of the least consoling subjects I know. Which makes it engrossing, just like The Wire.

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  98. Bryan, which church fathers, whose tradition? So your understanding of the gospel is informed by your interpretation of the church fathers. It is hermeneutics all the way down. Plus, you are especially wooden on what is oldest is most venerable. If that were true, then the Pentecostal Bryan Cross is more venerable than the Roman Catholic Bryan Cross.

    Admit it, you made a choice and in that choice you set yourself up as pope. If you were a cradle Catholic you might have a point. But really, if you’re can’t see how much your understanding of the truth flows from your own powers of reason and your own choices, then I think you’re naive. You do a good impersonation of an RC version of HAL (2001 A Space Odyssey). But behind those sound bites we know there lurks a rational autonomous self who chose Rome.

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  99. Darryl,

    If you think that Bryan would deny that he rationally chose Rome after using all his investigative skills to come to that deliberate decision, then you’ve not understood him. I’ll let him sepak for himself as to why.

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  100. Alan,

    Darryl believes, of course, in JBFA because the Bible teaches it and the church confesses it

    Where ‘church’ is defined (in part), by those sharing your interpretation of Scripture as those who believe in JBFA. Thus your claim amounts to “Darryl believes JBFA because the Bible teaches it.” (Did you read carefully “the day I was confronted” link in the web cache version of JJS’s post, linked in the very first comment in this thread?)

    I understand why you think that the Bible teaches JBFA. But when informed by Tradition, the meaning of “justification by faith” in Scripture does not correspond to the meaning of JBFA as put forward by the Reformers, as I explain in “Does the Bible Teach Sola Fide?.”

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

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  101. Jason, but from Bryan all I hear is how Protestants chose to break from Rome. That choice made a fetish of choice. So isn’t it a little ironic that you make a choice to find certainty in no choice?

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  102. JJS, I was hoping your next response would be in response to your previous point about passing the gospel down intact. You claim that it makes more sense for the second generation so close to the first to have gotten it right. But what about those within the first generation (e.g. Peter and the Galatians) who got it quite wrong per Paul? If members within the first got it wrong, what makes you think it makes so much sense for the second to get it so right?

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  103. Darryl: The issue is not making a choice versus not doing so, but rather, the issue in in the nature of what one discovers. I’m under the gun with a writing deadline, so I will let Bryan elaborate or, if he doesn’t, I’ll check back later.

    Zrim: No one denies that people “got it wrong” early on. My point was that it is implausible to believe that the entire early church, universally and without debate, plunged the simple gospel of Paul into a sea of legalism (which is what I cited Strange as implying).

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  104. Bryan, which tradition? Do you really mean to imply that until 450 AD only one Christian tradition existed and that Rome was at the top of the traditional heap? Christian unity was murky all the way down to the Fourth Lateran Council and the papacy’s claims of primacy were contested until then if not longer. So I can read any number of church fathers and feel like I’ve read John Piper, R.C. Sproul, and A. H. Strong, just as you could read any number of contemporary RC bishops and not find complete agreement. A systematic theology or commentary on the Bible is not the same thing as tradition.

    In which case, you may want to take your idea of tradition out of the glass cabinet and let it breath. History is no more on your side than on mine.

    To unravel that skein of associations, Professor Moore takes us back to the first Western burnings for heresy, at Orléans on December 28, 1022. Thirteen leading clergy, some canons of Orléans Cathedral, and their admirers, died in the flames. Their fate was a belated revival of a mode of punishment which, seven centuries before, the Roman Emperor Diocletian had decreed for Manichees; yet that echo of the past contained no implied association between these new heretics and Manichaean dualism. The choice of burning was probably because it neatly sidestepped ancient prohibitions stopping churchmen from shedding blood. It has also become apparent in recent years, as Moore has made clear in previous works, that the real issue in the Orléans holocaust was a political power struggle in France. The accused were respected clergy and former favourites of King Robert. He and his wife were ruthless in preserving the monarchy’s reputation for Christian orthodoxy by abandoning their protégés to condemnation and death.

    The Orléans affair heralded a new period of reform in the Western Church, one of the most thoroughgoing transformations in its history, culminating in the pontificate of Pope Gregory VII (1073–85). It was played out against a background of rapid social change which demanded that the Church provide comfort, explanation and reassurance for the faithful. The Gregorian reforms resulted in a body of clergy much more sharply delineated from the laity, particularly through an attempt to impose on Western clerics universal and compulsory celibacy, a move that no other Church has ever countenanced. The papal court greatly increased its power and activity throughout Europe; the papacy aspired to the status of a universal monarchy; monks and nuns sought to live their lives ever more closely approximating to the lives of angels in heaven; and monks and nuns also explored different ways of relating to a newly differentiated lay society, both in their traditional Benedictine settings and in a rich variety of new monastic orders.

    In fact, because you have more history, you may have more ‘splaining to do.

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  105. Jason, and who is the one who discovers but someone who determines what is true (sort of like the pope). Bryan chose before he submitted. He based it on his power (authority) to discover. So the point has to do with who really has the power here. The pope or Bryan?

    Btw, the history of Israel and the early church, the very pages of Scripture, point to God’s people getting it wrong again and again and again. The reading of “tradition” that CTC offers is not very historically sensitive.

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  106. JJS, what you said was: “It just seems much more plausible to me that Jesus handed on a message to the Twelve, who handed it on intact to those who succeeded them.” I understand your point that a wholesale departure seems an implausible interpretation. But by the same token, your suggestion that it was handed down wholly intact seems just as naive. Did Jesus hand down his gospel perfectly? Of course. But was it received and passed along perfectly? Come on. Haven’t you ever played Chinese Whispers?

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  107. “But when informed by Tradition…………….”

    Goodness gracious Brian, that’s the whole point. Which one? Which tradition you wanna pull out of the deposit today. Come on man, stop selling ‘tradition’ as some unanimity of belief that only experienced a ‘maturation’ over the years. You might get away with this, with protestants looking for a home, but at least do them and their conscience a favor, and tell them; “umm by the way, we of ‘the tradition’, don’t all agree about the why’s, what’s, wherefores and which one’s.’

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  108. Darryl:

    You are so right–

    DGH: Jeremy, as I say, history is no one’s friend. If you think history is going to vindicate either side, then you haven’t studied much history. Sorry if that sounds self-serving coming from a historian. But believe me, history is one of the least consoling subjects I know.

    ADS: History is complex and multi-textured, proving what the one writing the lawyer’s brief wishes to prove, or, if being written as history, doing so with all the nuance that the discipline demands.

    And then this one nailed Bryan–

    DG: Bryan, which church fathers, whose tradition? So your understanding of the gospel is informed by your interpretation of the church fathers. It is hermeneutics all the way down. Plus, you are especially wooden on what is oldest is most venerable. If that were true, then the Pentecostal Bryan Cross is more venerable than the Roman Catholic Bryan Cross.

    Admit it, you made a choice and in that choice you set yourself up as pope. If you were a cradle Catholic you might have a point. But really, if you’re can’t see how much your understanding of the truth flows from your own powers of reason and your own choices, then I think you’re naive. You do a good impersonation of an RC version of HAL (2001 A Space Odyssey). But behind those sound bites we know there lurks a rational autonomous self who chose Rome.

    ADS: Yes, indeed (I love the HAL Ilustration; I omitted the one about The WIre because I am unfamiliar with it).

    And with respect to JJS, I am not characterizing the “entire early church,” of which he accuses me, of plunging the “simple gospel of Paul” into “a sea of legalism.” Does he deny that there is that in the writings of the AP, and even something like the Didache, which has a different tone than the Pauline writings?

    Jason, since we are created as law creatures (humans being sealed with that at our cores), in the image of God, is it surprising that grace is hard to get, to fathom, that we tend to want to “save ourselves” and have to unlearn depending on our selves and to depend utterly on Him? What a burden you put on the AP, to get everything at once. It’s a burden neither they nor we can bear.

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  109. D.G.

    Regarding the “you made a choice and in that choice set yourself up as pope,” objection, I addressed that in “The Tu Quoque,” and more recently in the last two paragraphs of section II, titled “Which Church Would the Reformers Join Today? Avoiding a False Choice” of “Some Thoughts Concerning Michael Horton’s Three Recent Articles on Protestants Becoming Catholic.”

    As for differences of opinions among the Church Fathers, of course. But that does not mean that there was no shared Tradition among them. I will not attempt to persuade you of this. I could not do so without going through the Fathers with you one by one, and thereby bringing into focus the Tradition they share in common. Such a task would be far too difficult to do in a combox.

    In the peace of Christ,

    – Bryan

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  110. Bryan Cross: If their content is true, then you have nothing to fear if you love the truth more than comfort. But if their content is false, then you have an opportunity to expose their falsehood, and show JJS (and other Reformed men contemplating such a move) where he and other men such as myself went wrong.

    RS: But how are you going to determine if something is true? One man can be wrong and so can a lot of men. If history is your guide, what is the guide for history?

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  111. Bryan Cross: I understand why you think that the Bible teaches JBFA. But when informed by Tradition, the meaning of “justification by faith” in Scripture does not correspond to the meaning of JBFA as put forward by the Reformers, as I explain in “Does the Bible Teach Sola Fide?.”

    From Does the Bible Teach Sola Fide: “In order to answer that question, we need to understand what is meant by it. The Protestant claim that we are justified by faith alone means that on the part of humans, faith is the only thing necessary in order to be justified. As soon as we have faith, we are justified. With respect to what is needed within us for justification, faith is both the necessary and sufficient condition for justification.”

    RS: That is not what the Protestant claim is. Faith is not both the necessary and sufficient condition for justification. Christ is the necessary and sufficient condition for justification and is all that is necessary and is totally sufficient. The believing soul must have Christ alone and so that does not allow for one to have Christ and works at the same time. To have a believing soul one must be regenerated. You went off in the first paragraph.

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  112. Bryan Cross: I understand why you think that the Bible teaches JBFA. But when informed by Tradition, the meaning of “justification by faith” in Scripture does not correspond to the meaning of JBFA as put forward by the Reformers, as I explain in “Does the Bible Teach Sola Fide?.”

    From Does the Bible Teach Sola Fide: “The Catholic doctrine, by contrast, is that faith is not the only thing necessary, on our part, in order to be justified.1 We also need love [agape] for God. If we believe the message about Christ, but do not have love [agape] for God, then we are not justified, because such faith is not a living faith. Only when accompanied by love for God is faith living faith, and hence justifying faith.”

    RS: But by this you are meaning that a life of love is needed in order to be justified. Remember, for Protestants it is not that a person is justified by faith itself alone, but by Christ alone. The soul is justified by grace alone through faith alone. Faith is what receives grace and faith cannot receive grace unless it has given up all hope in works. Faith is not a work of the soul, but a workless condition in the soul that receives grace. Only from a true faith that receives true grace can grace produce true love and true works, but those never justify the soul because Christ alone can do that.

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  113. Bryan,

    In one of your posts you defend Augustine.

    Here’s the quote: “Calvin thinks that James 2:10 supports his position. “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.” (James 2:10) He likewise takes “the soul that sins, it shall die” (Ez. 18:20) as supporting his position. But the Catholic understanding of these verses is that they are about mortal sin,”

    A stumbling is mortal sin? James uses the same word for stumble in James 3:2: “we all stumble in many ways.” Every stumble, then according to the Catholic understanding, must bring upon the soul the guilt of the entire law. Every Catholic commits mortal sin every day. And none of the Catholics I know care a whit about it.

    Have you stumbled today? And you haven’t taken the sacrament for penance? Then you are in unrepentant mortal sin. Get ye to your priest who has also stumbled today, or live in mortal sin.

    And to think you were sprinkled with magic water one day with a magician speaking incantations over you to prevent such a thing. Would make a word-faith preacher weep. Or laugh. Whatever.

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  114. Bryan Cross: I understand why you think that the Bible teaches JBFA. But when informed by Tradition, the meaning of “justification by faith” in Scripture does not correspond to the meaning of JBFA as put forward by the Reformers, as I explain in “Does the Bible Teach Sola Fide?.”

    From Does the Bible Teach Sola Fide: “The Council of Trent declared, “For faith, unless hope and charity be added to it, neither unites man perfectly with Christ nor makes him a living member of His body. For which reason it is most truly said that faith without works is dead (James 2:17, 20) and of no profit, and in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything nor uncircumcision, but faith that worketh by charity. (Gal 5:6, 6:15)

    RS: The two passages above describe the quality of faith rather than what justifies. A lot of people claim to have faith, but the soul must be regenerated in order to have be a truly “faithing” soul. These things do not justify, as love does not justify, but it describes something of what a truly “faithing” soul is.

    Bryan Cross quoting Trent: “If any one saith, that men are justified, either by the sole imputation of the justice of Christ, or by the sole remission of sins, to the exclusion of the grace and the charity which is poured forth in their hearts by the Holy Ghost, and is inherent in them; or even that the grace, whereby we are justified, is only the favour of God; let him be anathema.”

    RS: So here Trent denies the Gospel of grace alone and Bryan evidently agrees with it. What Trent wants is for people to be justified by a working faith over a period of time rather than having Christ alone for justification. In other words, it appears that Christ did not do enough so now we must make up for those things by what we do.

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  115. Bryan, go ahead. Start running through the church fathers. I dare you. (BTW, don’t take this the wrong way, but your linking to articles you’ve written has a real similarity to John Frame.)

    As for your claim that Luther’s “Here I stand” was wrong but yours is right, it’s incredibly arbitrary. You are both interpreting and deciding what is right, one on the basis of the Bible, the other on the basis of what church authorities say about the Bible. But you’re both interpreting. You think the church fathers are more authoritative than Luther. But that’s based on another set of interpretations. This onion has so many layers I’m beginning to cry.

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  116. As a brief redirect, since Jason’s recent change of address from Geneva to Rome seems to be the topic du jour, does anyone offer a more probing critique of Rome than Dostoyevsky did in The Grand Inquisitor? Sometimes fiction is the greatest form of truth-telling, and the vaunted Russkie sure did his darndest to pull back the curtain on what had happened to the church, and how her relation to Christ had changed over the course of its history.

    And while we are on the topic of fictional characters, the Dude abides in resplendent coolness, but Ivan was a cool cat himself – one of those characters I would definitely like to sit over some grain spirits and shoot the proverbial breeze with.

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  117. I find the discussion about the difference between “cradle Romanists” and “choosers” to be mildly amusing. On the one hand, I often hear “Reformed” people say that “we too are credobaptists”. Thus they offer to baptize the “choosers”, ie, folks who never had the benefit of Roman Catholic infant baptism. On the other hand, I hear “Reformed” folks complain about religious liberty and the lack of discipline (as if they were the ones who invented discipline as a mark of the church). As Stan Hauerwas says in his anti-liberal rants, “we did not choose that we would have to choose….”

    Those on the more “catholic” wing of the Reformed tradition (not only those in the “Federal Vision” deconstruct any difference between “real” water and “legal” union with Christ. They will defend anything (slavery, the confederacy) “ancient” just so long as it is anti-liberal. They think inductively, as if that which has come with the passing of time must therefore be good and justified.

    Unwilling as individuals to return to the Roman Catholic Church, despite agreeing to a “co-instrumentality” of works in “final justification”, people like NT Wright and John Milbank (and Philip Blond) assume there can be no pluralism of cultures (choices, individuals) and thus they seek to transform the one culture. And of course some theonomic postmillenialists wait for the time when their exile will end by means of divinely approved violence.

    The next time they are Constantine they promise to do it better. In the meanwhile they remind us that Constantine and Augustine are our Christian fathers and must be respected.. Those who tell us that the gospel is not true without their “church” are trying to sell us a historical narrative in which the visibility of Jesus Christ has to do with certain specific inherited rituals. And then they have to spend even more time blogging about what those rituals mean for those who participate in the rituals but don’t agree about the meaning.

    Hal from 2001? I like that.

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  118. Trent, Session 6, Chapter V:
    Justification is be be drived from the prevenient grace of God, though Jesus Christ, that is to say, for his vocation, whereby, without any merits existing on their parts, they are called; that so they, who by sins were alientated from God, may be disposed through his quickening and assisting grace, to convert themselves to their own justification, by freely assenting to and co-operating with that said grace.”

    Chapter VII: The instrumental cause is the sacrament of baptism, which is the sacrament of faith, without which [faith] no man was ever justified; lastly, the alone formal cause is the justice of God, not that whereby he himself is just, but that whereby he maketh us just, that, to wit, with which we, being endowed by him, are renewed in the spirit of our mind, and we are not only reputed, but are truly called, and are just, receiving justice with us, each one according to his own measure, which the Holy Ghost distributes to every one as he wills, and according to each one’s proper disposition and co-operation.”

    RS: Bryan, the last paragraph is the context of your quoting Trent in your article: “The Council of Trent declared, “For faith, unless hope and charity be added to it, neither unites man perfectly with Christ nor makes him a living member of His body.” You didn’t mention in your article the context that this is in which demands works in regard to being justified.

    Romans 4:1 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, has found?
    2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God.
    3 For what does the Scripture say? “ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS CREDITED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS.”
    4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due.
    5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness,

    RS: Read this text again. Part of believing God is not to work for justification but to believe in Him who justifies the ungodly. The quotes from Trent above show that Trent wants God to justify the godly or those who are striving for that. You didn’t mention that baptism is part of justification in your system of thinking.

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  119. Darryl, no need to get snarky about my bonafides at history. Covenant didn’t have a very strong patristics class, but you and I share the same position on historiography–how could anyone trained by Green and Morton think otherwise? I trust that I know far more about the history of the Disability Rights Movement in the 80s than you do, but if you told me “All these liberals say I should become a liberal because the ADA was the triumph of recognizing the value of people with disabilities,” I would say that’s horseshit, and point to all the ways that economic rationality informed the anthropology in the ADA itself and the Congressional Record.

    What I wouldn’t do is say you don’t know much history or you’re asking dangerous questions. I know very little about the ECF, which is why (when confronted with a narrative about this period ad quotations that support it) I asked Reformed folks like you to school me on it. The conversation has gotten better as a result, which has been helpful.

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  120. Bryan Cross: I understand why you think that the Bible teaches JBFA. But when informed by Tradition, the meaning of “justification by faith” in Scripture does not correspond to the meaning of JBFA as put forward by the Reformers, as I explain in “Does the Bible Teach Sola Fide?.”

    From Does the Bible Teach Sola Fide: “But given the Catholic understanding of justification by a faith conjoined with agape, then there is no need for splitting justification into one before God and one before men. The initial act of turning away from sin (in repentance) and toward God (in faith informed by agape) is a small participation in the infinite righteousness of Christ. Every subsequent act of faith working through agape increases our participation in God’s righteousness. And that is how justification is both initial and yet increases; these increases in justification are also referred to as ‘being justified.’ And that is the sense in which Abraham and Rahab were justified by works, i.e. a faith working itself out through agape.

    RS: So we have a small participation in the infinite righteousness of Christ? Our small participation increases our justification? That small participation sure sounds like one trying to add just a small amount of works to Christ and say that we must have our own works in order to be justified. The problem, however, is that this means that we would not be believing in the God who justifies the ungodly without their works (Rom 4:1-6). This would mean that this is adding a small amount of our work to grace which makes grace no longer to be grace (Rom 11:6). In other words, it makes God one who saves sinners on the basis of His grace plus a little of their works. That leaves men room to boast and leaves no room for grace alone and God only saves to the praise of the glory of His grace (Eph 1:6). The Bible trumps Trent and God’s grace alone is greater than our sin and His righteousness alone is enough to cause a sinner to walk through the gates of glory.

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  121. Stellman, Dual Citizens, p79– “While adults coming out of pagan backgrounds may indeed experience a seismic shift in loyalties, this is the exception rather than the rule. The Christian faith, normally speaking, is passed on from parents to children by means of infant baptism.”

    Of course most paedobaptists have what Stillman would call a “pietist” model of conversion and do not really believe in “covenant succession”. That is why paedobaptist clergy have to keep quoting
    Calvin and Nevin to their own people.

    But I do not agree with Stellman that “God never deals with us as individuals” (p9) I do not agree that, when we hear Christ preached, we then hear Christ preaching. (p13) I do not agree that, when we hear an official “minister” absolving our sins, we hear Christ forgiving our sins.

    Are the non-elect not hearing “your sins are forgiven”, because they don’t care about their sins? If so, does everything come back again to the “choosing” of the hearers? Is it “pietism” to warn people that the New Testament is written only to Christians? It’s ironic that Stellman says there is no Sabbath death penalty for non-Christians but he can’t make a distinction between Christian and nonChristian for those participating in the cultic rituals. He must acts as if everybody given the “sacrament” is an exile from the world and a Christian.

    Otherwise he thinks he would have to speak in the church as if were speaking to the world. And then he would have to think more about water passing on grace to pagan “choosers” Even if there is no hearing with faith, is there still blessing?

    But of course Stellman never wanted to talk about “dead” Christians (p80) as if some internal work of the Spirit resulted in an orthodox confession of the gospel. Even though Stellman was not Constantinian, he did agree with the ancients that “sacrament” holds “the” church together. But the irony is that those who think this cannot agree about which church is the church. And even though they want to follow the OT (“the” covenant) model for worship, they are not agreed about
    about what “the” model is.

    In Exodus 32 (the golden calf), Moses did not ask for a doctrinal confession by individuals. Nor did he say that some on the bus have moved from the Calvary Chapel seats to the Reformed seats. “Who is on the Lord’s side? Go forth, and kill your brother… Today you have ordained yourselves for ministry”.

    Is the Roman Catholic bus a different bus than the Protestant bus? Is it the bus where sectarians sit in the back and don’t know which bus they’re in?

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  122. Jed, at the risk of show my illiteracy, where is Dostoyevky’s critique of Rome? Please don’t say the Brother K since I read that (a long time ago).

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  123. The Grand Inquisitor is in Brothers K. Some would say he wrote the novel to get to that. In any case, it’s there and all its polyphonic glory. Too bad one of Dostoevsky’s solutions is a Russia in which the church takes over all the functions of the state.

    p 143 of Stellman’s Dual Kingdoms is a discussion of Romans 6: “According to this view, under law means under the condemnation of God’s moral law, and under grace speaks of the deliverance from this condition. Some problems arise from this view….. if under law and under grace are existential categories describing an individual’s condemnation or justification, then Paul’s argument is a non-sequitur. It is not justification but sanctification that frees us from the dominion of the sin.”

    mcmark: John Murray would certainly agree with that last sentence. What does it mean that Christ died to sin? It means that the law of God demanded death for the sins of the elect imputed to Christ. As long as those sins were imputed to Christ, He was under sin, he was under law, He was under death. Now death has no more power over Him? Why? Because the sins are no longer imputed to Him, but have been paid for and satisfied.

    But Stellman also asked: “When Paul spoke to those saints in the churches of Galatia who desired to be under the law, was he talking to people who longed to be under the condemnation of the law?”

    mcmark: It doesn’t matter what the Galatians wanted or didn’t want. Paul’s conclusion is that the false teachers were under condemnation. “If you go their way, Christ will be of no profit to you.” The gospel does not tell people that they want to be damned. The gospel says that they will be damned if they trust in anything else but Christ’s death for the elect. The elect’s “died with Christ” means that Christ died for them.

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  124. Sorry to dissapoint Darryl, but The Grand Inquisitor is in the Bros. K. But the good news is you don’t have to read the whole zillion page novel, you can just read the Inquisitor, as a story it stands alone. Some bookstores sell it in pamphlet form.

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  125. From Alan D. Strange:

    Jason, since we are created as law creatures (humans being sealed with that at our cores), in the image of God, is it surprising that grace is hard to get, to fathom, that we tend to want to “save ourselves” and have to unlearn depending on our selves and to depend utterly on Him? What a burden you put on the AP, to get everything at once. It’s a burden neither they nor we can bear.

    That, indeed, is the template we must keep before our eyes. For it’s why we are our own worst enemy when it comes to resting in the comfort of God’s free grace. One doesn’t need laws, rituals, and penances pounded into us. Those paths come all too naturally. But the Gospel?!… like the man who looks in the mirror and sees his image, we walk away and all-too-easily loose sight, or conviction, of the free mercy and grace of the Gospel of Jesus Christ received by faith alone in our Lord.

    Pound away with the Gospel…

    Thank you, ADS…

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  126. Jason Stellman,

    Embracing the Roman Catholic Church effectively means repudiating the doctrine of Escondido 2K.

    The Roman Catholic Church cannot possibly be said to uphold the tenets of Escondido 2K doctrine. If you swim the Tiber, you swim away from E2K. You know that, don’t you?

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  127. Self-referential linking should be outlawed. Talk about circularity….

    I am so glad to hear that because I was hoping that Darryl could re-make his arguments to me here in this combox that evangelicalism doesn’t exist, and that the confessionalist/pietist taxonomy is preferable to the liberal/conservative one (you see, my copies of Decontructing Evangelicalism and The Lost Soul are all the way across the room).

    Wow, lots of ins and outs here, a lot of what have you’s…..

    Effin’ social studies.

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  128. D.G.,

    First, I want to thank you for the good discussion. I’ve enjoyed reading your exchange with Bryan and I hope the dialogue can continue. If I could say something in response to the question you posed to him, “Which Tradition?”

    Your view of Christian history seems to be divorced from your strong belief in the sovereignty of God. The first seminary class I took, “The Ancient Church”, which I took through Westminster Philadelphia with Dr. Richard Gamble as my Professor, stressed the providential hand of God in protecting the Church. Dr. Gamble painted a historical picture where all the forces to be were at work against orthodoxy, and yet, by God’s grace, orthodoxy prevailed through the Councils of the Church. Dr. Gamble made it clear that the theology hammered out in the early Councils of the Church were not simply victories for the most erudite and convincing theologians, they were victories for the Holy Spirit, because it was the Holy Spirit at work preserving the Church. Yet, I see that you don’t believe this, which makes me sad, because the whole fun of Church History is watching God’s hand at work. Do you believe God ever protected His Church from theological error? Do you believe anything has been infallibly interpreted? Is there a single doctrine you can hold up and say “this has been infallibly interpreted”? What about the trinity? What about the two natures of Christ? Although Westminster West prides itself on being conservative and truly Reformed, it has skepticism built into the fabric of its deepest theological commitment. If there is no infallible authority outside the Bible then you have no grounds to assert a Reformed interpretation of Scripture over any other interpretation.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

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  129. Jeremy, I am not sure why you would say that I don’t believe in providence or God’s sovereignty. I do. But as a historian I cannot point to God’s inscrutable designs or means. To do so would be presumptuous if not blasphemous. That means that if you study the past and follow the clay feet of all figures, councils, and texts, you cannot find a clear blue line of correctness — that is, if you do as a historian. As a theologian or churchman or church member you may. That’s a different role. But it is a real abuse of history to think that the study of the past reveals God’s designs beyond what he has revealed in Scripture (which is history of a different but still complicated order).

    In other words, I believe God protects his church. I’m just not sure that anyone can show it and most of the time when people try historically it turns out to be a version of David Barton.

    As for infallible authorities outside the Bible, what pray tell do you have in mind? The pope? A council? A Harvard professor? Last I checked all human authorities (minus Christ) are fallible. But God does reveal that he delegates authority to under-authorities, like pastors and elders. Have you not read the pastoral epistles? And on your view, every teenager has a perfect right to reject his parents’ curfew if he finds out his father and mother are fallible, or if he can’t vindicate his parents’ authority from history.

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  130. D.G.,

    What about starting with the Nicene Creed? In college I first realized that my PCA Pastor wasn’t “comfortable” with the wording. I believe now, however, that it is an infallible statement of faith. It takes certain theological questions off the table for ever, but only if we believe in infallible interpretations. Where would you correct the Nicene Creed? How do you understand the role of the Holy Spirit in the formation of that creed?

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

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  131. D.G.,

    To your question about why I questioned your belief in God’s sovereignty. I don’t doubt you believe God is sovereign in salvation, I question how you see it in salvation history. Your view of history seems to staunchly embrace ecclesial deism. I’m not sure how or why you would disagree with me suggesting that. Have you had a chance to read Bryan’s article “Ecclesial Deism”?

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

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  132. DG: “If you think history is going to vindicate either side, then you haven’t studied much history.”

    JM: Just to be clear, I do not think that any study of history (no matter how early) would positively vindicate a claim to accurate doctrine. After all, only 20 years have passed since Reagan/Bush, and the GOP’s claim to their legacy makes no sense. Even if the Judaizers had won and circumcision was practiced for all Gentile Christians from Clement to Benedict XVI (and there had been no Reformation) I would still object based on Galatians.

    However, since Catholics do show that included among the earliest church practices are veneration of Mary and talk of apostolic succession, I think it’s necessary to have an alternative or complicating account. Asserting that 1500 years of venerating dead saints like Polycarp doesn’t matter because it’s unbiblical may ultimately be the better argument, of course, but forgive me if I find it to be worrying. It might not logically mean that the practice is OK, but it’s suggestive. Otherwise, the Reformers wouldn’t have tried to establish that the ECF were on their side.

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  133. Jeremy McLellan: However, since Catholics do show that included among the earliest church practices are veneration of Mary and talk of apostolic succession, I think it’s necessary to have an alternative or complicating account.

    RS: Why is it that we think that those closest to the apostles and closest to that time period would necessarily be safe guides to the teaching of Scripture? It is no more surprising that idolatry was found in the earliest times than it is that some would make a golden calf just after they left Egypt. It is no more surprising that there would be talk of apostolic succession in the earliest times when the Bible itself speaks of those who wanted to be of Paul and others who wanted to preach Christ to cause Paul trouble. Do we dare bring up the practices and the doctrines of the Corinthians or the churches in Revelation? Just because these were churches that Paul started does not guarantee that they were faithful churches with great doctrine and practices. It is just as likely that the earliest of churches were under attack by the evil one and so were corrupted from the earliest of days since that is what we see in Scripture.

    Let us imagine that in the year AD 3000 a historian by the name of G.D. Heartless was running around. He only had limited access to history because nunclear war had destroyed a lot of books and computer information, but he studied the doctrines and practices of the churches he could find. He found out that some practiced speaking in ecstatic tongues and holy vomiting (Vineyard in the 1990’s or so). He reasoned that since these people were 1000 years closer to the apostles they must have the truth. Then he found a book by Jonathan Edwards on Religious Affections and it was even closer to the apostolic times. Dr. Heartless. however, lived in a very rational time and could not understand what Edwards was talking about. But then he found a piece of writing by a man named Pelagius and he was really, really close to the apostolic times. This guy must have been telling the truth since he was so close to the original time period. What should Dr. Heartless do? How is he going to deternine what is true and what is not?

    Could it be the case that the devil fought very hard around the time of Jesus and the apostles and sprinkled a lot of error in the truth in order to deceive people both then and now and for the rest of history? What if he could get the eyes of the people off of Scripture and focus on history as the way of telling the truth when in fact he sowed great error into the doctrine and practices of the church from the beginning? Maybe the necessary alternative account is simply “thus says the Lord.”

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  134. Bryan Cross: I understand why you think that the Bible teaches JBFA. But when informed by Tradition, the meaning of “justification by faith” in Scripture does not correspond to the meaning of JBFA as put forward by the Reformers, as I explain in “Does the Bible Teach Sola Fide?.”

    RS: In your article (“Does the Bible Teach Sola Fide?”) you go on and on about faith and the nature of faith. However, if I may say, you have missed the whole point of the Reformation’s teaching on the reason justification is by faith alone. I might add that more importantly you have missed the teaching of the Bible on it as well. Let me quote from the Historical and Theological Introduction of the 1957 edition of Luther’s Bondage of the Will.

    “The doctrine of justification by faith was important to them because it safeguarded the principle of sovereign grace; but it actually expressed for them only one aspect of this principle, and that not its deepest aspect. The sovereignty of grace found expression in their thinking at a profounder level still, in the doctrine of monergistic regeneration–the doctrine, that is, that the faith which receives Christ for justification is itself the free gift of a sovereign God, bestowed by spiritual regeneration in the act of effectual calling. To the Reformers, the crucial question was not simply, whether God justifies believers without works of law. It was the broader question, whether sinners are wholly helpless in their sin, and whether God is to be thought of as saving them by free, unconditional, invincible grace, not only justifying them for Christ’s sake when they come to faith, but also raising from the death of sin by His quickening Spirit in order to bring them to faith. Here was the crucial issue; whether God is the author, not merely of justification, but also of faith; whether, in the last analysis, Christianity is a religion of utter reliance on God for salvation and all things necessary to it, or of self-reliance and self-effort. Justification by faith only is a truth that needs interpretation. The prinicple of sola fide is not rightly understood till it is seen as anchored in the broader principle of sola gratia.”

    They (Johnson and Packer) go on to say that “these things need to be pondered by Protestants today. With what right may we call ourselves children of the Reformation? Much modern Protestantism would be neither owned nor even recognized by the pioneer Reformers. The Bondage of the Will fairly sets before us what they believed about the salvation of lost mankind. In the light of it, we are forced to ask whether Protestant Christendom has not tragically sold its birthright between Luther’s day and our own. Has not Protestantism today become more Erasmian than Lutheran? Do we not often try to minimise and gloss over dotrinal differences for the sake of inter-party peace? Are we innocent of the doctrinal indifferentism with which Luther charged Erasmus? Do we still believe that doctrine matters? Or do we now, with Erasmus, rate a deceptive appearance of unity as of more importance than truth? Have we not grown used to an Erasmian brand of preachig from our pulpits–a message that rests on the same shallow synergistic conceptions which Luther refuted, picturing God and man approaching each other almost on equal terms, each having his own contributions to make to man’s salvation and each depending on that dutiful co-operation of the other for the attainment of that end?”

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  135. Bryan Cross: I understand why you think that the Bible teaches JBFA. But when informed by Tradition, the meaning of “justification by faith” in Scripture does not correspond to the meaning of JBFA as put forward by the Reformers, as I explain in “Does the Bible Teach Sola Fide?.”

    RS: In your article (“Does the Bible Teach Sola Fide?”) you do not show faith as part of the bigger picture of the sovereign grace of God. Since God is sovereign and grace to be grace cannot have work or merit, there is no other kind of grace but sovereign grace. Faith must receive a sovereign grace if it is to receive grace at all.

    Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. 27 Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith.

    RS: What does God start with? He starts with sinners who are dead in sins and trespasses and are by nature children of wrath (Eph 2:1-3). What does God start with? He starts with sinners who are worthless and useless (Rom 3:9-18), have done and can do not good, with not one of them being righteous (v. 10) and none of them seeking for God (v. 11). So God starts with those who are born in sin and in all they do they fall short of His glory. There is nothing of merit that these people can do to provide the smallest part of righteousness or of merit to add to the infinite righteousness of Christ.

    So what does God do? He justifies this group on the basis of grace. Notice this once again, sinners are justified (declared just) by grace. What reason does this text give us for why God shows grace? Some of the older translations render this verse as God justifying freely. The modern translation says that God justifies as a gift. John 15:25 helps us out here as it uses the same words and has basically the same grammar. In that it said that they hated Jesus “without cause.” In other words, there was no cause in Jesus for them to hate Him, but instead they hated Him because of themselves. So in Romans 3:24 we have the words of Scripture telling us that God declares sinners just by grace without cause though the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.

    God sent Christ and set Him forth as a propitiation for sin. Was this sending and this suffering of the wrath of God caused by something of merit or of goodness He found in sinners? No, the text said that it was for the demonstration of His righteousness. This leaves sinners without one reason or ground to boast on unless they boast in the cross of Christ.

    The grace that saves sinners found all of its reasons, all of its causes, and all of its motives within God Himself. For sinners to be saved by grace “freely” is to say that they are saved by grace which saves them apart from any cause found in them. God saves for the demonstration of His righteousness which is also to say that He saves to the praise of the glory of His grace. There is no grace that is not a sovereign grace that saves for reasons found in God Himself. There is no faith, therefore, that can come from the sinner and add to what God has done. Faith must be in and receive a sovereign grace or it is a work of self and so not a true faith at all. If faith comes from a will that is free of the sovereign grace and power of God then it is a faith that comes from the flesh and as such is a work of the flesh. A faith that is not a product of the monergistic work of God makes salvation to be something less than grace alone. I would urge you to think through your writings on faith again. A faith that is not from grace is a faith from the flesh and a work of the flesh makes grace no longer to be grace (Rom 11:6). In other words, it destroys the Gospel of grace alone (in conception) and as such is an attack on the Gospel.

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  136. RS,

    You cut me off when quoting me. Please don’t do that. In addition to the first paragraph that agrees with you, but you skipped, I continued with exactly what your “response” entails: “Asserting that 1500 years of venerating dead saints like Polycarp doesn’t matter because it’s unbiblical may ultimately be the better argument, of course, but forgive me if I find it to be worrying. It might not logically mean that the practice is OK, but it’s suggestive. Otherwise, the Reformers wouldn’t have tried to establish that the ECF were on their side.”

    Obviously, I do not treat the Apostolic Fathers’ beliefs and practices as authoritative or indicative of a purer Christianity than our own, but the Reformers certainly felt it was important to establish some continuity, or at least debunk the claims of a clear line of pure doctrine and practice. Maybe you’re willing to concede the entire Catholic emplotment of doctrinal development, but I’m not.

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  137. Bryan, if you comhave your infallible guide in the RCC (what a joke, man), why do you like to link (in reality, quote) yourself all the time? Given the argument, who gives a plug nickel what you think?

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  138. Jeremy, not to be flippant, but so what? So some Christians venerated Mary (though you wouldn’t be able to tell that from Peter or Paul’s epistles, which should count as some kind of historical evidence, not to mention the churches endorsing these writings as canonical despite their silence about veneration of Mary). So what. You see lots of stuff in history. Is history authoritative? We see lots of charismatics today. In 2000 years will their practices be authoritative?

    In other words, I think you are buying a view of history (not to mention signing off in the peace of Christ) that Bryan Cross promotes. I don’t buy it. I think God will protect his church. That doesn’t mean that God will prevent all forms of error or heresy or idolatry.

    Think about Ephesus. Paul helped to get that church going. It was an important outpost for Christianity. Where is that church today? Where is that city today? What does this do to your view of God’s providence?

    As I say, history is tricky business. But if you are going to put your trust in the past, you are going to be confused.

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  139. D.G.

    When Jason sends you his books I’ll buy them from you, I got folks who are interested. On the flip side, if Judas can walk, eat sleep and minister with the incarnate son of God, and not only reject Him but hand him over to be killed, why can’t those who come right after the apostles get it wrong and some even purposefully so? Why can’t sin and satan, be an overarching cause for error in the ECF, where there is error or divergence, if Paul, Peter and John lay these two causes as the root of the doctrinal heresies that plague their churches while they still lived, what gives that we should have what amounts to a history in a vacuum, free from such inconveniences right after the apostle’s died. Is the argument that God wasn’t superintending history while Paul was writing out the epistles, but got serious about it after the apostle’s died, because well, they died and He needed to pick up the slack?

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  140. Sean, I suppose it is a version of Clark’s quest for certainty (can’t remember the initials). I don’t mean to minimize this desire. Evangelicalism isn’t going to produce it, unless you constantly get the Holy Spirit buzz. And Reformed Protestantism has its challenges. But if you think going to Rome is going to resolve doubts, especially if history becomes the comforter, I’m thinking you are setting yourself up for a boatload of doubt. Better not go to an actual parish or read what other RC’s say. Just stay on-line with CTC.

    Speaking of initials, what is ECF?

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  141. Jeremy McLellan: RS, You cut me off when quoting me. Please don’t do that.

    RS: I did not take you out of context and you did not contradict the part I quoted by what you said after that.

    JM: In addition to the first paragraph that agrees with you, but you skipped, I continued with exactly what your “response” entails: “Asserting that 1500 years of venerating dead saints like Polycarp doesn’t matter because it’s unbiblical may ultimately be the better argument, of course, but forgive me if I find it to be worrying. It might not logically mean that the practice is OK, but it’s suggestive. Otherwise, the Reformers wouldn’t have tried to establish that the ECF were on their side.”

    RS: But what you continuted with is not exactly what my response entails. You continuted to say (as seen from just above) that “because it’s unbiblical may ultimately be the better argument.” You didn’t say that it is a better argument, but that it “may ultimately be the better argument.” You then go on to say that you find it “worrying” and that it is “suggestive.” That is not exactly what my response entailed.

    JM: Obviously, I do not treat the Apostolic Fathers’ beliefs and practices as authoritative or indicative of a purer Christianity than our own,

    RS: It is not obvious since I don’t know you and I am not sure how many that read here know you. In fact, according to your own words, you find things like this worrying. Now Jason is trying to get you to talk to him offline. Is he wanting to do that because he finds you so staunch in the Reformed faith or because he is reading your words and thinks there are some cracks here and there?

    JM: but the Reformers certainly felt it was important to establish some continuity, or at least debunk the claims of a clear line of pure doctrine and practice. Maybe you’re willing to concede the entire Catholic emplotment of doctrinal development, but I’m not.

    RS: But thinking something is important is not the same thing as being necessary. I would think that it would be more important to find some agreement with some of the ECF (Early Church Fathers) in a doctrinal sense than with the practice. But showing something as biblically wrong is necessary whether the error has been perpetuated for two thousand years or simply started yesterday.

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  142. D.G.,

    “Better not go to an actual parish or read what other RC’s say. Just stay on-line with CTC.” How do you know this? Do you attend a Catholic parish or are you just making stuff up?

    My parish for one if full of converts from every corner of Evangelicalism (including Reformed), but the leaders in our Church are solid craddle Catholics who love Christ as their Savior. I would love for you to meet them.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

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  143. ECF – Early Church Fathers

    Here is the Apostle Paul’s instruction to Timothy on how to interpret church history going forward….

    “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come:

    For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.”

    Paul’s point is that “such men” will mark church history as it’s leaders (2 Tim. 3:7). “Such men” profess faith in Christ and lead churches. “Such men” are unbelievers and destined for doom (1 Peter 2:8).

    By AD 63 the churches on Crete were upwards of 30 years old (Acts 2:11). As such we might suspect they were somewhat mature. Yet the apostolic judgment is that their”many” leaders are completely corrupt (Titus 1:10).

    By AD 95 the churches of Western Turkey were almost entirely apostate. The apostle John’s letter from Christ to 7 churches reveals on 2 of them were pleasing Him without reproach, or less than 30%. And these churches were under the oversight of apostles.

    Given Crete’s need for total reformation, Paul’s inspired teaching on future apostasy, and John’s delineation of present apostasy, why would anyone expect a positive trajectory through church history?

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  144. Jeremy Tate: My parish for one if full of converts from every corner of Evangelicalism (including Reformed), but the leaders in our Church are solid craddle Catholics who love Christ as their Savior. I would love for you to meet them.

    RS: Jeremy, many people love Christ for what they think He has done for them, but that does not mean that they have the true love of Christ in them and so love Christ. If those men are solid Catholics in any sense, then they are solidly outside the biblical Gospel. Trent placed an anathema on the biblical Gospel. Don’t be deceived any longer about that. Remember, if a place denies the Gospel as Roman Catholicism does, this does not mean that people cannot be very kind in the outward sense and very religious. Remember that the Pharisees were religious and they gave alms, but they received the harshest words from Jesus. Don’t be deceived by all the Erasmians running around today who don’t think that doctrine is all that important. Paul told us something very important in Galatians 1:8-9 that all should listen too: “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!
    9 As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!” What Rome says and what historical Protestantism says cannot both be true. Logically speaking, one of them is very wrong or both of them are very wrong.

    While the language RC’s use may appear to be close to what traditional Protestants use, they are miles apart in reality. It seems that while you are trying to be a RC now you are still keeping a foot in the Protestant water too. Understand that despite the politically correct ways of RC’s in the United States, Trent condemns historical Protestantism and historical Protestantism condemns Trent. There is no way to go between the horns of these two positions. Jesus did not appear very nice to the Pharisees, but He was perfect love. I may not appear very nice, but what I am saying is truly best for your soul. Quit playing around with the heresy of RC’s, repent and believe Christ alone by grace alone in the Gospel. Perhaps the sovereign God may grant you repentance, but He is under no obligation to do so. Remember Hebrews 6.

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  145. D.G.

    Ted is right. ECF is my shot at shorthand for early church fathers. I thought I’d try my hand at making it up in the blogosphere. If it works for the CTCers……………..

    Jeremy,

    I’m one of those cradle catholics. You guys have carved out your own niche within the american scene, which is fine, Rome accomodates most everything else under the sun. But you guys need to really be honest with these people you’re trying to proselytize, and stop with your selective use of the ‘deposit’ and rose colored interpretation of the magisterium’s superintending of the maturation of it. My B.S. meter is about as sensitive as Cross’ question-begging one, and poor Bugay’s is even worse than mine and he’s gonna have to undergo treatment for PTSD if he has to deal with anymore of CTC’s version of the ‘tradition’. Teach them the mass, and when to stand, sit, kneel and the various incantations, try to steer them away from the charismatics, and go ahead and get them their starter rosary beads, and let them get on with what Rome is about.

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  146. Sean,

    You are really not “one of those craddle Catholics” because the craddle Catholics I was referring to are the ones who have remained in the Church and taken leadership roles in working to make the parish a vibrant place of worship centered on Jesus Christ. From what I understand, you are the type of craddle Catholic who has left the Church and joined a sectarian group, from which you condemn all things Catholic. My children love the Church and through her they have come to know Jesus Christ in a way Protestantism could never offer. Were you raised in a nominally Catholic family or were you raised in a family in love with Jesus and the Church?

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

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  147. Sean,

    I’m not sure you are “one of those craddle Catholics” because the craddle Catholics I was referring to were the ones who remained in the Catholic Church and worked hard add vibrancy and a deeper focus on Christ to the parish. From what you have written it sounds like you have left the Catholic Church and joined one of the 30,000 plus Protestant sects. Were you raised in a family in love with Christ or in a nominally Catholic family? I see in Catholic families children who are coming to know Christ through the Church in a way Protestantism could never offer.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

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  148. Jeremy Tate: From what you have written it sounds like you have left the Catholic Church and joined one of the 30,000 plus Protestant sects.

    RS: This is a bogus argument. The tent or Roman Catholicism and its Erasmian and even universal way of thinking simply will not be honest about all the people it is counting as its members. One could argue that of what you call 30,000 Protestant sects, very few are actually Protestant but they are simply not willing to call themselves Roman Catholic. If they would kiss the ring, you would let them right in.

    Jeremy Tate: Were you raised in a family in love with Christ or in a nominally Catholic family?

    RS: Being in love with Christ sounds a lot like someone falling in love in the secular American way. That is far different than what the Bible teaches.

    Jeremy Tate: I see in Catholic families children who are coming to know Christ through the Church in a way Protestantism could never offer.

    RS: Yes, but historical Protestants don’t want to know Christ in that way as it is not in accordance with the Gospel of grace alone. Roman Catholicism offers a Christ were people have to contribute something to their salvation, can never have true assurance, will suffer in purgatory for thousands and perhaps millions of years, and can fall from grace at any moment. Indeed this is a way historical Protestantism could never offer.

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  149. Richard,

    Hi, the Catholic Church affirms salvation by grace alone. The problem is sola fide. They are different.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

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  150. Jeremy Tate, I’ve been to enough RC parishes (at funeral masses) and on the road to see that Rome has as much baggage as the mainline. Last week I was in Richmond and found on the street outside the Cathedral a newsbulletin that would suggest a social justice theme that most political conservatives and George Weigel would find objectionable. And have you ever been to Our Mother of Consolation in Philadelphia? I have. Plus, I dedicated a book to three RC friends — arguably the best colleagues I’ve ever had. And you should hear them on the problems in U.S. parishes.

    All of this is to say that going to Rome doesn’t solve the problem of defects in the church.

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  151. Jeremy Tate, btw, if you’re going to go back to ECF (thanks Sean), why not go to Orthodox Christianity? They confess the Nicene Creed the way all the early church did — without filioque. Plus, they venerate Mary. There may be more early veneration of Mary among the Orthodox than among the Romans. Rome looks like a late voice in the adoration of Mary. Just look at J.N.D. Kelly’s, Early Christian Doctrine.

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  152. Jeremy,

    You are right, I left the hodge-podge and mishmash of the ‘tradition’ and a doctrine of salvation which left me to my own earnestness and the sacraments and the priesthood for a more surer testimony that wasn’t dependent ultimately on what was going on within me. I found broader evangelicalism not a vast improvement over Rome, in some cases worse being left to myself and my ‘prayer closet’, not even having the sacraments as a bailout. But you misconstrue my nominality. I was sent to study for the priesthood at 13 and lived amongst priests and the religious while pursuing studies, I finally abandoned those studies completely by the time I was nineteen. So, what you may have created on the CTC blog and your anglo-catholic communities, may in fact be a better experience than your protestant one. But these are divergent paths we’ve both taken based on a choice and choices and subsequent choices we will make going forward. Your Sola Ecclesia path doesn’t inoculate you from that choice and choosing, regardless of Cross’ question begging flag throwing otherwise. But do me a favor, stop selling your ‘brand’ as Rome, it’s but a small corner, and there’s those of us out here who are gonna call you on it, every time. Now, if you start selling them the Mass and the priestcraft as the undergirding of the faith and Rome, you’ll be exhibiting a lot more honest brokering than a lot of what you guys have been proffering.

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  153. Sean,

    My “brand” as you refer to it is simply fidelity to the Magisterium. Sadly, there are many Catholic institutions who today only see the Magisterium as one of many voices, but I believe the new young wave of priests and nuns is profoundly marked by renewed fidelity to the Magisterium. The old liberals are dying out. Nobody wants to give their life to a watered down version of Catholic Christianity. The high enrollment at orthodox seminaries and the low enrollment at the old liberal seminaries proves this reality. With the ever rising tide of secularism and the growing presence of Islam, Christians cannot continue to be fragmented. Thousands of evangelicals and Reformed Christians are realizing this and are coming home to Rome. And true, they often make the most faithful Catholics.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

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  154. Jeremy,

    That’s a lot of fealty to be rendering. But, it’s interesting that y’alls experiment isn’t much different from the protestant churches who are gonna get back to the church of ACTS. And it’s refreshing to hear the tacit admission that the unity you cobbled together is not representative of the vast number of faithful RCers and just about as tenuous as anyplace else that has a bunch of sinners.

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  155. Sean,

    On the “tacit admission” – I am only admitting that there are a large number of Catholics who do not understand what the Magisterium is and do not submit in their belief as they ought. That does not change the sacramental unity of the Church and it does not change the historical fact that Catholic liberalism has run its course and is dying out. It is an exciting time to be Catholic and I enjoy being in fellowship with Christians who I would have been weired out by in their previous form of Protestantism. My best friends are a former charismatic pentecostal and a former dispensationalist. In our seperate Protestant corners we would have done nothing but argue, but we all left the man-made traditions for the authority of the Church Christ founded.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

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  156. OK Jeremy. All I can say is good luck with all that. I do hope you won’t entrust your soul to the magisterium, keep a healthy dose of cynicism and a good sense of humor handy. That’s one thing Rome bequeathed to me that I’ve put to good use out here in protestant land as well. Ultimately though, we all take our stand and make a choice and continue to make choices and like I said, by faith, I believe I’ve landed on a more sure testimony of our Lord.

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  157. My best friends are a former charismatic pentecostal and a former dispensationalist. In our seperate Protestant corners we would have done nothing but argue, but we all left the man-made traditions for the authority of the Church Christ founded.

    Only now to have arguments with those who believe that their communions are an expression of the true church, founded upon Christ, and reject Rome as a church entirely. Polemics are inescapable, and it would be better to embrace them and understand their benefit in defining belief structures than saying, “Well now that I am part of the RCC, all that ‘arguing’ stuff is beneath me.”

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  158. RS: “…But what you continuted with is not exactly what my response entails…”

    JM: You’re right, I can see that now. It seemed at the time like you were bracketing off my support of Sola Scriptura so you could assert it, creating a false argument when we are actually in agreement.

    RS: “Now Jason is trying to get you to talk to him offline. Is he wanting to do that because he finds you so staunch in the Reformed faith or because he is reading your words and thinks there are some cracks here and there?”

    JM: I’ve given Jason no reason to think me un-staunch in the Reformed faith, and if there is a “crack” in my thinking it is in how to view the relationship between “true Christianity” and early church history, which he probably wants to seal. Perhaps like you he also makes too much of my careless wording of history being “worrying” and “suggestive.” I find historical Reformed support for American slavery “worrying” and “suggestive” in the same sense, especially since Sola Scriptura was used to support it, but I think they were wrong.

    So far, the Protestants on here (especially Ted) have done a much better job explaining from Scripture why the Christianity that emerged after the Apostles needs to be taken as UN-authoritative. If Jason really wants to try to convert me, he’s going to have a bad time.

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  159. Erik Charter: “If history impresses you maybe we should allow slavery again. It was around for a lot longer than not. Polygamy goes way back, too.”

    JM: Yes, you could go back…all the way to Scriptura. Please do not bring up slavery or polygamy when arguing with Catholics, especially since one very ornery Reformed theologian keeps supporting it.

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  160. RS: “You didn’t say that it is a better argument, but that it “may ultimately be the better argument.””

    JM: OK, it is the better argument. Are you in agreement that there is a 1500 year gap?

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  161. Jeremy T. says – “Thousands of evangelicals and Reformed Christians are realizing this and are coming home to Rome.”

    If this is about a scorecard I think more are moving the other way. I have known lots of people who have been “raised Cathlolic” who have become Protestants once they started to think for themselves, but no Protestants who have become Catholics (well one, and she married a guy who was raised Catholic who became Protestant long enough to find a wife in a Baptist student group…). Literally that’s the only one in 35+ years in Methodist, Baptist, Christian & Missionary Alliance, E-Free, and finally United Reformed Churches. Most of Cathloic converts I’ve encountered on this site are highly-educated, former Reformed guys who read a lot (and there just aren’t that many of those people). I don’t think what is happening amongst them is happening with garden-variety evangelical and Reformed folk.

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  162. Jeremy Tate: Richard, Hi, the Catholic Church affirms salvation by grace alone. The problem is sola fide. They are different.

    RS: Jeremy T, the Roman Catholic church does not affirm salation by grace alone though it may use the language. Once sola gratia is understood, there is no way to escape sola fide. Rome wants to define grace in a way that includes works, but in doing so it makes grace no longer to be grace. Beware!!!!!!!!!!

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  163. Jeremy M quoting RS: “Now Jason is trying to get you to talk to him offline. Is he wanting to do that because he finds you so staunch in the Reformed faith or because he is reading your words and thinks there are some cracks here and there?”

    JM: I’ve given Jason no reason to think me un-staunch in the Reformed faith, and if there is a “crack” in my thinking it is in how to view the relationship between “true Christianity” and early church history, which he probably wants to seal. Perhaps like you he also makes too much of my careless wording of history being “worrying” and “suggestive.” I find historical Reformed support for American slavery “worrying” and “suggestive” in the same sense, especially since Sola Scriptura was used to support it, but I think they were wrong.

    RS: I would agree that he sees cracks, but I am not arguing that you have them in reality. At times, however, the way things are worded it does appear that way.

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  164. Jeremy McL., why do you think Rome is the oldest or most historic form of Christianity? Isn’t that really reserved for Eastern Orthodoxy? After all, the Nicene Creed of Nicea has no filoque clause. If you’re thinking about history, what about the 500 year gap for Rome (between 500 and 1054)?

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  165. Jeremy McLellan quoting RS: “You didn’t say that it is a better argument, but that it “may ultimately be the better argument.””

    JM: OK, it is the better argument. Are you in agreement that there is a 1500 year gap?

    RS: No, I am not in agreement that there is a 1500 year gap. I would argue that some of the groups that Roman Catholicism branded as heretical were actually those who held to the core of the true faith of the Gospel. I would also argue that God has kept little pockets of His elect here and there. But I would also argue that many things that people fight over today are not essential and so even if some of those things went back that long it is virtually meaningless. It could also be true that God does reveal more truth (opening the eyes of His people to greater truth as history goes on) at times. Some examples of those in history that Rome branded as heretics could be the Donatists, the Waldenses, and men like Wycliffe and Hus. John Gerstner argued for years that Aquinas would be with the modern Protestants on justification. Of course Aquinas used different language, but it is not all that implausible.

    If we go back to Luther we find him ready to swallow hard and put up with the Pope and various things if only Rome would proclaim the true Gospel. I would argue, though without a huge amount of evidence, that there were those under the rubric of Rome who did not believe what Rome taught. John Gerstner debated a RC priest one time and the priest basically agreed with Gerstner on justification. Gerstner told the man that he did not believe what Rome taught and asked him how could he stay with Rome. The man had no answer.

    The Waldenses were reputed by some to have been started in 1160 by Peter Waldo, yet others say this group extended back for centuries to the Novatian movement of the 3rd Century and from there all the way back to the Apostolic Age. This group specifically and clearly would not identify with Rome. They are considered by many to be an early group of Baptists. All of that to simply say that of course I don’t accept that there was a 1500 year gap. Those who win the battles of ecclesiology with the sword are able to write the books. Rome could proclaim all as heretics who did not take their side in ecclesiology or doctrine and burn their writings. This explains a lot about why there may appear to be a 1500 year gap and why Rome asserts it, but there was not one. It was simply a time when Rome controlled the religious and through that a lot of the political world as well. Opposition from orthodox people was stamped out and writings were burned. So Rome can say that the Church was united and more or less believed the same thing for 1500 years, but that does not tell the whole story.

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  166. Richard Smith,

    I cannot imagine how Scripture could possible be any more clearer on this point; “…and not by faith alone.” Go back and examine James 2:24 in context. The Reformed interpretation of this passage begins with the conviction that James couldn’t possible mean what he seems to be saying and so the interpretative gymnastics begins.

    Or what about Jesus? “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. – Mattthew 7:21 But then again, Reformed people don’t like to look to the words of Christ when it comes to understanding justification. He is pretty much dismissesd on this complicated subject. Man cannot be justified without agape, without love for God. Scripture is all to clear on this point.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

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  167. “Reformed people don’t like to look to the words of Christ when it comes to understanding justification. He is pretty much dismissesd on this complicated subject.”

    Get ready Richard, for the Jesus vs. Paul paradigm and then the next move to the protestants misunderstood Paul and there is no Jesus vs. Paul. But, I know Jeremy your commune doesn’t look like the one I grew up in.

    On that cherry bomb, I gotta go. My silence won’t be tacit admission to your rebuttal Jeremy. 😉

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  168. Self-referential linking is usually utilized as a lazy way out of answering a good question that would further the conversation in the combox. So its unfortunate to see some commenters use their comments as bait for people to click on their egregiously long blog posts. If a commenter doesn’t want to have the same conversation again, nobody is forcing them to post.

    It doesn’t really further the conversation if someone links to their self-published internet essays of Frameian proportions and then they bow out.

    Plus, it just doesn’t seem very ecumenical to do that….

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  169. DG,

    Sigh…I don’t think that. Since Jason and CTC are on the block, I’m asking about the RCC. If your post was about Pelikan’s conversion, we’d be talking about Orthodoxy. I actually do think the OC is more historically defensible than the RCC, and I know a lot more Reformed folks who have converted to Orthodoxy than the RCC (including an ex-girlfriend). But the Orthodox do still regard the beliefs and practices of the early church as indicative of an oral tradition that is not a restatement of Scripture, so the need to develop a response is the same. Ted’s seems to be a strong one.

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  170. Jeremy Tate – Don’t you need to interpret Scripture in light of Scripture? Could not the works that James & Jesus speak of be those works that are done by those who are already justified as part of their being sanctified? Isn’t it true that those Christ justifies He also sanctifies? If works are a part of our justification how can we ever do enough of them? Who decides when we have done enough – God Himself, the Pope, a Priest?

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  171. Jeremy Tate – If your answer is we all come up short in this life and that’s what Purgatory is for please spell out a Biblical case for the existence of Purgatory?

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  172. Jeremy Tate: Richard Smith, I cannot imagine how Scripture could possible be any more clearer on this point; “…and not by faith alone.” Go back and examine James 2:24 in context. The Reformed interpretation of this passage begins with the conviction that James couldn’t possible mean what he seems to be saying and so the interpretative gymnastics begins.

    RS: Well, I guess I am not Reformed since I think James is quite clear on what he is saying and no interpretative gymnastics are needed. Maybe you are just not clear on what James is saying.

    James 2: 20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS,” and he was called the friend of God.
    24 You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.
    25 In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?
    26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

    RS: If we look at v. 24 it says that a man is justified by works. Okay, that is what it says. The text is clear and really not ambiguous. It says that what a man is justified by is works and what a man is not justified by is faith alone. Then verse 25 is also just as clear when it says that Rahab was justified by works in the same way. So James is quite clear in saying in verses 24-25 of chapter 2 that people are justified by works and they are not justified by faith alone. The question, however, is whether he is talking about being justified before God or not since he just said in verse 22 that Abraham believed God and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.

    So, Jeremy T, I don’t think that you are not being honest with the text. You either need to admit that a person is justified by works or by faith. The text does not say that a person is justified by a mixture of both. I am not doing gymnastics here nor do I have to twist around with my interpretation. I simply say that verse 24 says that what a man is justified by is works and what he is not justified by is faith alone. Then verse 25 says that Rahab was justified by her works though indeed we only know of one work that she did. I say that there are two justifications being spoken of here and you say there is only one. But do you really want to assert that people are justified before God by works? After all, that is what James teaches if you want to avoid twisting around too much.

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  173. Jeremy Tate: Richard Smith, Or what about Jesus? “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. – Mattthew 7:21

    RS: I fully agree with this text of Scripture. Not everyone who says ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom. I also fully agree that only those who do the will of the Father who is in heaven will enter the kingdom. The true teaching of justification by grace alone through faith alone is evidently something you have avoided if you think that people who believe it think that a person can enter heaven while willfully not obeying the Father.

    Jeremy T: But then again, Reformed people don’t like to look to the words of Christ when it comes to understanding justification. He is pretty much dismissesd on this complicated subject. Man cannot be justified without agape, without love for God. Scripture is all to clear on this point.

    RS: Once again, I guess I am mistaken and am not Reformed because I love the words of Jesus. Why would want to dismiss Him, though this subject is perhaps not as complicated as you say. You are correct in saying that man cannot be justified apart from agape because Jesus lived a perfect life out of perfect love for the Father and obtained a perfect righteousness for His elect. You might want to read I John 4:7-8, however. There it speaks of how the only people who love are believers and believers are born of God and know God. It is not that a person earns part of their salvation or any aspect of it by love, but rather when they are regenerated and justified they are enabled to love.

    What did the thief on the cross do to justify himself? Jesus said he would be in paradise that very day. What works did the tax collector do to justify himself in Luke 18? He went home justified.

    13 “But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’
    14 “I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

    RS: Look closely at Mat 19: 23-26, which are once again the words of Jesus: ” And Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.
    24 “Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” 25 When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?” 26 And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

    RS: Notice that Jesus said that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle (unless you really hump it?) than it was for a rich man to be saved. Do you teach that to rich people? The disciples were astonished at that as well and wondered who could (word of ability) be saved. Jesus was quite plain and clear when He told them that with people “this is impossible”. Salvation is only possible with God. He did not say that salvation was possibly possible with men nor that salvation was mostly possible with God. He said that with people salvation was impossible and yet with God it is possible. I love the words of Jesus, but that is why I believe in justification by grace alone.

    Matthew 5:3 says that “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
    RS: The Greek word here has the idea of being utterly impoverished. It teaches us that in terms of our spirit or spiritual realm the blessed ones are those that have no righteousness of their own and have no way or means of obtaining it. These are the ones who look to grace alone to save them rather than looking work up something to assist in their salvation. The words of Jesus (according to Jesus) are spirit and they are life. He did not say that His words plus our works are life, but He who is life gives words of life.

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  174. Jeremy Tate:

    “Reformed people don’t like to look to the words of Christ when it comes to understanding justification. He is pretty much dismissesd on this complicated subject. Man cannot be justified without agape, without love for God. Scripture is all to clear on this point.”

    Jeremy, Jesus of Nazareth doesn’t teach “justification through faith working through love” as you claim.

    Consider the words of a tax-collector:

    “God, be merciful to me, the sinner!” I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:13).

    If the tax collector had agape in his heart he would have been insincere, according to RCC theology, for claiming he was a “sinner.” He should instead have said, “I have seen the working of agape in my heart. Please justify me.”

    He would have needed to measure his heart for something meritorious before having the audacity to ask God for the mercy that results in justification. Instead he claims the opposite: “God be merciful to me the sinner.” The Pharisee, who did look into his own heart, and found in it merit, was condemned forever.

    And btw, I’m not Reformed.

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  175. Erik,

    On purgatory; the WCF (chapter XXXII) affirms that after we die we are then MADE perfect and then we enter into heaven. So when and where are we made perfect? According to the WCF it happens before we enter heaven? So, that begs the question, where does this happen? Catholics just call it purgatory, but the WCF acknowledges it nonetheless.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

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  176. Jeremy Tate: On purgatory; the WCF (chapter XXXII) affirms that after we die we are then MADE perfect and then we enter into heaven. So when and where are we made perfect? According to the WCF it happens before we enter heaven? So, that begs the question, where does this happen? Catholics just call it purgatory, but the WCF acknowledges it nonetheless.

    RS: The WCF does not acknowledge anything like purgatory. God regenerates souls and declares them righteous in His sight because of who Christ is and what Christ has done. However, that does not make the soul perfect in all they do. They grow in holiness in practice in their lifes, but when they die they leave the body of death and are given a new body at the final judgment. In that new body they are holy in all they do.

    Chapter XXXII
    Of the State of Men after Death, and of the Resurrection of the Dead
    I. The bodies of men, after death, return to dust, and see corruption:[1] but their souls, which neither die nor sleep, having an immortal subsistence, immediately return to God who gave them:[2] the souls of the righteous, being then made perfect in holiness, are received into the highest heavens, where they behold the face of God, in light and glory, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies.[3] And the souls of the wicked are cast into hell, where they remain in torments and utter darkness, reserved to the judgment of the great day.[4] Beside these two places, for souls separated from their bodies, the Scripture acknowledges none.

    RS: The WCF acknowledges (as well as Scripture) no other places in eternity other than the place of God and the place of judgment. Notice that the bodies of all go to the dust and suffer corruption, but the souls of the righteous are then made perfect. This is to say that they will sin no longer. The souls of the wicked suffer the wrath of God.

    II. At the last day, such as are found alive shall not die, but be changed:[5] and all the dead shall be raised up, with the selfsame bodies, and none other (although with different qualities), which shall be united again to their souls forever.[6]

    RS: On the last day all the dead will be raised with new bodies which are united to their souls.

    III. The bodies of the unjust shall, by the power of Christ, be raised to dishonor: the bodies of the just, by His Spirit, unto honor; and be made conformable to His own glorious body.[7]

    RS: There is nothing about purgatory or anything like it because Christ has satisfied the full wrath and justice of the Father for His elect and there is no wrath left.

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  177. Jeremy – “On purgatory; the WCF (chapter XXXII) affirms that after we die we are then MADE perfect and then we enter into heaven.”

    This sounds like the U.S. Supreme Court finding a right to abortion in the “penumbras” of the Constitution. I also didn’t ask about the WCF, but about the Bible. Why would a Roman Catholic care about what the WCF says?

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  178. Erik,

    What Bizarro Jeremy means is that the WCF affirms a “purgation” while the RCC says it happens in a place. It’s a common argument that ignores that we deny any intercessory contribution to it. It was actually a reflection on their liturgy (again, believed to be part of the deposit, along wih precedents like 2nd Maccabees) that led RCC and OC to affirm it as a place of purgation that intercessory prayer affects. But to say that that’s just the logical extension of our beliefs in a final transformation and intercessory prayer is dishonest. When I pray that my brother will return to the fold from agnosticism, it’s not efficacious in a mathematical way, like paying down a debt.

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  179. Erik,

    This sounds like the U.S. Supreme Court finding a right to abortion in the “penumbras” of the Constitution. I also didn’t ask about the WCF, but about the Bible. Why would a Roman Catholic care about what the WCF says?

    Yes, onto the Bible. My point about the Westminster Confession of Faith was simply that the WCF affirms that some sort of transformation must happen after we die, but before we enter heaven. This sounds a whole lot like purgatory to me.

    Scripture? There are many verses that affirm purgation or cleansing through fire. Again, neither purgation nor cleansing could happen in either heaven or hell. In heaven all are perfect and in heaven all suffer the eternal condemnation of God. Three verses to look at would be; 1 Cor. 3:10-15, Jude 1:23, and Rev 3:18-19. There is also the strange verse of Jesus preaching to the Spirits in prison (1st Peter 3:19). I’m not going to offer an extended exegesis of all the verses here, though if you want I will. I am also fine admitting that none of these verses offer an extended discourse on purgatory as a dogma. However, it is impossible to understand these verses if you are committed to the idea that the only spiritual realms in existence are earth, heaven, and hell.

    Think about it on a personal level though and your own desire to be holy and perfect before the Lord. I think C.S. Lewis says it the best;

    Our souls demand Purgatory, don’t they? Would in not break the heart if God said to us, ‘It is true, my son, that your breath smells and your rags drip with mud and slime, but we are charitable here and no one will upbraid you with these things, nor draw away from you. Enter into the joy’? Should we not reply, ‘With submission, sir, and if there is no objection, I’d rather be cleaned first.’ ‘It may hurt, you know’ – ‘Even so, sir.’

    – C.S.Lewis, Letters To Malcom: Chiefly on Prayer, chapter 20, paragraphs 7-10, pages 108-109

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

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  180. Ted,

    Slow down a minute please, the story of the repentant tax collector is one of my favorite in all of Scripture, always has been, and it perfectly fits into the Catholic understanding of justification. Look at 1889 in the Catechism of the Catholic Church;

    The first work of the grace of the Holy Spirit is conversion, effecting justification in accordance with Jesus’ proclamation at the beginning of the Gospel: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”38 Moved by grace, man turns toward God and away from sin, thus accepting forgiveness and righteousness from on high. “Justification is not only the remission of sins, but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man.39 (Did you notice here that grace comes first?)

    In the story of the tax collector in Luke 18 we are seeing a conversion. It comes from grace alone as a free gift. We really agree on this point (I think). What happens next is where we disagree. Consider an analogy; suppose you get your son a puppy for his birthday. It is a gift right? But then you tell him that he must water and feed his puppy or it will die. Does telling him that make it any less of a gift? Are you somehow less gracious because he must cooperate to keep his gift alive. Since justifying faith must be a LIVING faith it must be fed/watered through the Word and Sacraments. Apart from this it will die. Where and how would you disagree with this analogy?

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

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  181. Jeremy McL., yes, Rome is the discussion, but a big part of this conversation involves history and how we view it. You may remember asserting that I don’t believe in God’s providence because of my view of history. And history is a big part of the CTCer’s move to Rome. So bringing up Constantinople only seems fair.

    And that’s why I said history settles nothing. What Jesus and the apostles, not to mention the prophets, said matters. Granted, history involves a lot of interpretations of those writings. But if the way to settle those disagreements is simply to turn to one set of interpreters (and then assume they are coherent), that’s a pretty tidy but not very historically accurate way out.

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  182. Jeremy T., if doing the will of God is the standard, no one gets in, not even Mother Theresa. You have to do it completely and all the time. Oy!

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  183. D.G.,

    Who becomes Catholic for purgatory? I became Catholic because it offered continuity with the ancient Church, but more importantly because it offered a means to know Christ more fully. Again, I’m just making the point that the WCF affirms that something does happen between earth and heaven where we are “made” perfect.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

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  184. Jeremy T., “if doing the will of God is the standard, no one gets in, not even Mother Theresa. You have to do it completely and all the time. Oy!”

    Not true, what we’re talking about here is abiding in Christ (John 15) and Jesus teaches that we must do this. I don’t see how we can get around this truth. Abiding in Christ means living by the Spirit and not willfully falling into what we know is grave sin.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

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  185. Jeremy T: The first work of the grace of the Holy Spirit is conversion, effecting justification in accordance with Jesus’ proclamation at the beginning of the Gospel: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”38 Moved by grace, man turns toward God and away from sin, thus accepting forgiveness and righteousness from on high. “Justification is not only the remission of sins, but also the sanctification and renewal of the interior man.39 (Did you notice here that grace comes first?)

    RS: Actually, you missed several things, but let us focus on two. One, in Roman Catholicism baptism is what starts conversion. At least that is what Trent says. The tax collector was not baptized. Two, the tax collecter simply asked for mercy and he went home justified. Rome would not allow that this man went home justified since he had not worked out of love at all and had not been baptized.

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  186. Jeremy,

    The man who identifies himself as a sinner without any expectation of mercy, but calls on the Lord who is rich in mercy, receives justification. The tax collector went down to his house not potentially justified, but justified (Luke 18:14). If the man had then said, “I am only potentially justified, he would have sinned unbelief against God. Roman Catholics cannot submit to this without becoming anathema, based on the Council of Trent.

    The man who thinks to himself he does have reason to receive God’s mercy (based on love in his heart, say) receives nothing but more blindness.

    To your analogy:

    Boys like puppies. A lot. No change needs to occur within them to make it so. And when the son fails to care for the puppy, his Mom, Dad, and sibs help out. And even if he entirely fails, he is always his father’s son.

    In RCC theology grace is not grace but a test, even as the gift of the puppy was not a gift but a test. If the boy passes the test he gets reward (justification). The Father is not so grace-filled after all but tests his son in probation. The son was actually better off without such a “gift.”

    Sinners hate God. A lot. They are unable to understand spiritual truth with a believing heart. And they cannot please God (Rom. 8:9). Every good thing He gives them they kill with sin.

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  187. DG: “You may remember asserting that I don’t believe in God’s providence because of my view of history.”

    JM: I remember Jeremy TATE saying that (https://oldlife.org/2012/07/former-saints-remorse/comment-page-3/#comment-53359) but I’m Jeremy MCLELLAN. I could not disagree more with what he said by the way. It sounds an awful lot like the Providentialist historiography of which I was quite disabused at Covenant, including reading YOUR collection “Religious Advocacy and American History.” I’m fine with methodological naturalism.

    Still, the way we typically respond to the David Bartons of the world is by publishing stuff like “Getting Jefferson Right” (http://amzn.com/B007ZUDUAU) or “Was America Founded as a Christian Nation?” (http://amzn.com/B004WDYKG6). If America was a “Christian Nation” until 1973, that would matter, wouldn’t it? If not, then why is it so important to the Religious Right to assert it, and for us to debunk it?

    If it helps keep us separate, think:
    McLellan=SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN
    Tate=”To knowingly supply answers to a midterm after being specifically told not to by the professor” according to the infallible Urban Dictionary (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=tate)

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  188. Men,

    I’m going to let this be my last comment as parenting responsibilities will prevent me from continuing our conversation. First, I graduated from Reformed Theological Seminary and I still have a great deal of respect for Reformed Theology and an even greater respect for my reformed friends (especially in comparison with broad evangelicalism). I have made the same arguments to Catholics in the past that I hear you making now. I can only hope that we can go beyond defending sides and towards seeking truth. I came to the unexpected theological conclusion that the Catholic Church is the Church Jesus founded and that in a world of skepticism and confusion she is the one I can trust. Make no mistake about it, I only spend time on sites like this because I have a desire to see other Reformed people convert as well. I could never put into words the fullness and richness I have found in the Catholic Church and I believe I am receiving sanctifying grace through the sacraments in a way I never knew existed as a Reformed seminarian.

    Ted, back to the puppies. I was laughing when I read your response, talking about puppies in the context of justification just seems unexpected. True, if other’s step in the dog will not die. There were only two people in the story though and dad is dad and he told his boy that puppies needs water to live. Assume he works really long hours (whatever, all analogies break down). It doesn’t change it being a gift and grace really is grace in Catholicism because it is effectual.

    Richard Smith, you wrote “Actually, you missed several things, but let us focus on two. One, in Roman Catholicism baptism is what starts conversion. At least that is what Trent says.” Normally, but not always. The thief on the cross was never baptized either and no Catholic doubts his salvation. Look at the Catholic Catechism 1258; “The Church has always held the firm conviction that those who suffer death for the sake of the faith without having received Baptism are baptized by their death for and with Christ. This Baptism of blood, like the desire for Baptism, brings about the fruits of Baptism without being a sacrament.” You don’t know that the tax collector was never baptized and perhaps he received the fruits of baptism without the sacrament.

    Richard Smith, “you never answered my reply to you on James 2”. My point was simply that the only time Scripture ever mentions “faith alone” it rejects it. Protestantism drove a wedge between grace and works and ignores the distinction between the works of the regenerate and unregenerate.

    I’m sure I will be frequenting this site more often as I’ve really enjoyed our conversation. My wife is pregnant with baby #4 and is really sick and I’m sure theology blogging during this time probably isn’t the best way to love her as Christ loved the Church. Thanks for the dialogue.

    Peace in Christ, Jeremy

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  189. Jeremy T quoting Richard Smith, “you never answered my reply to you on James 2″.

    Jeremy T: My point was simply that the only time Scripture ever mentions “faith alone” it rejects it. Protestantism drove a wedge between grace and works and ignores the distinction between the works of the regenerate and unregenerate.

    RS: But the point of that verse in James 2 is to show that one type of justification is by works and it is not by faith. The text does not say that one is justified partially by works and partially by faith. Protestantism has not driven a wedge between grace and works, it just shows the true connection. There are no works that a person can do that can possibly contribute to justification since Christ puchased that all by Himself. It is only when a person is freed from having to work for salvation or part of salvation that a person is free to work according to love and to desire the glory of God in what he does. Protestantism (Reformed) does not drive a wedge between works and grace, but instead is the only way that good works are possible. Rome, on the other hand, makes grace and good works impossible because it does not allow for a pure or real grace. Remember, any work added to grace makes grace no longer to be grace (Rom 11:6).

    I can only say I am sorry that you graduated from Reformed without understanding what the Reformed teaching on justification really is. While we share a desire to see Reformed people converted, they don’t need to convert to Rome because that is not true conversion. That is falling from grace as a way of salvation. I am sorry to hear that you think that sanctifying grace comes through the sacraments in a way that it does not come in Protestantism. That can only mean that you are not looking to Christ alone by grace alone.

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  190. Richard Smith,

    I do understand the Reformed Teaching on Justification and I believe it is only partial truth. You cannot be saved without love for God, Catholics cannot give up this truth. Let me end with a brutally honest quote from one of the most influential Catholic Apologists living today, Dr. Peter Kreeft;

    But many Catholics to this day have not learned the Catholic and biblical doctrine. They think we are saved by good intentions or being nice or sincere or trying a little harder or doing a sufficient number of good deeds. Over the past twenty-five years I have asked hundreds of Catholic college students the question: If you should die tonight and God asks you why he should let you into heaven, what would you answer? The vast majority of them simply do not know the right answer to this, the most important of all questions, the very essence of Christianity. They usually do not even mention Jesus!

    Until we Catholics know the foundation, Protestants are not going to listen to us when we try to teach them about the upper stories of the building. Perhaps God allows the Protestant/Catholic division to persist not only because Protestants have abandoned many precious truths taught by the Church but also because many Catholics have never been taught the most precious truth of all, that salvation is a free gift of grace, accepted by faith. I remember vividly the thrill of discovery when, as a young Protestant at Calvin College, I read Saint Thomas Aquinas and the Council of Trent on justification. I did not find what I had been told I would find, “another gospel” of do-it-yourself salvation by works, but a clear and forceful statement that we can do nothing without God’s grace, and that this grace, accepted by faith, is what saves us.

    The split of the Protestant Reformation began when a Catholic discovered a Catholic doctrine in a Catholic book. It can end only when both Protestants and Catholics do the same thing today and understand what they are doing: discovering a Catholic doctrine in a Catholic book.”

    We should listen to Dr. Kreeft. Peace in Christ, Jeremy

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  191. Jeremy,

    I did listen to Peter Kreeft. When I took multiple classes from him while studying RC theology at Boston College.

    He is very far from a Christian apologist. He is a Thomist and does not regard the human mind fallen in Adam. And that leads him to be a Pelagian who can seek and find God through the mind apart from revelation.

    And since knowing God doesn’t rely on revelation it has lead him to believe in salvation by magic. The Catholic system, iow. And it is this magic that is the “fullness and richness” of what brings you comfort.

    I do hope you wife feels better. Will be praying for her, and you.

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  192. Jeremy T., how do you know Christ more fully when his work and merits become more obscure? If Christ’s righteousness is sufficient, why purgatory? Protestant believers who don’t die – as when Christ returns – don’t aren’t purged by death or purgatory.

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  193. Jeremy McL. sorry for the confusion. As long as you don’t sign off “in the peace of Christ” I should be able to keep you straight.

    I don’t believe the U.S. was or is a Christian nation. Only one nation was Christian — Israel. And that arrangement ceased at Easter.

    So another way to respond to Barton is to do theology.

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  194. Jeremy T., but if we are saved by grace, then why do we HAVE to love God? After five centuries, I’d think Rome might be able to see a bit of a wrinkle here. Then again, Protestants also confuse nothing I do can please God with I must love God to enjoy his favor.

    The oldest teachings of the church are in Scripture and there both Peter and Paul teach salvation by faith which receives Christ’s righteousness, not faith which loves. True faith does love, but that love is not sufficient to please God.

    I’d ask you to go back to your notes on the doctrine of man and consider how desperately wicked men and women are and how the only solution to human depravity is the perfect righteousness of Christ, not the grace assisted love of men and women.

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  195. Flipping through the channels this morning past several “church services” I heard Joel Osteen telling his massive flock that God would “give them what they deserve”. I immediately switched over to a show with a more accurate view of human depravity – “Mad Men”.

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  196. But many Catholics to this day have not learned the Catholic and biblical doctrine. They think we are saved by good intentions or being nice or sincere or trying a little harder or doing a sufficient number of good deeds. Over the past twenty-five years I have asked hundreds of Catholic college students the question: If you should die tonight and God asks you why he should let you into heaven, what would you answer? The vast majority of them simply do not know the right answer to this, the most important of all questions, the very essence of Christianity. They usually do not even mention Jesus!

    Jeremy T., and you don’t see this as a plausible outworking of the Catholic doctrine that one is as justified as he he sanctified?

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  197. Zrim,

    Earlier Jeremy talked about his friend who was deliberately choosing to live in sexual sin because he thought he was elect and that God was helping him understand his own depravity. How would you have responded if I had asked the question you ask above? My guess is you would caution me about the whole “plausible outworking” argument since it is totally fallacious, right?

    Golden Rule, is what I’m saying.

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  198. JJS, but one difference is that I cannot attest to many Reformed not having learned the Reformed and biblical doctrine and living like Jeremy’s antinomian friend. If I could, I suppose there would be more ground for you to ask the question. I can, however, attest to many Reformed living like neo-nomians, which suggests having a doctrine more in line with Catholic teaching than Protestant.

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  199. Christians are not sinners anymore? We don’t deliberately sin? Our sin is accidental? We don’t sin that often? We only occasionally “fall into it”? If we think our sinning more or less effects “final justification”, then we have not yet been justified by God imputing to us the righteousness of Christ’s death for the elect.

    To think our “good enough” love for God and neighbor is an inevitable result of God’s justification is to be either self-righteously deceived or to be in despair with no assurance of justification. To turn the result into a condition, to disguise the imperative as an indicative, to confuse law and gospel, starts a path which leads to the system of anti-christ.

    Jonathan Edwards: “In one sense, faith is the condition of justification; in another sense, other qualifications are conditions of justification….if it be that with which a thing shall be and without which a thing shall not be, we in such a case call it a condition, but in this sense faith is not the only condition of justification, for there are many things that accompany and flow from faith, such as love to God….There are many other things which are directly proposed to us, to be performed by us in order to eternal life, as those which if they are done, we shall have eternal life, and if not done, we shall surely perish.”

    WJE 19:152

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  200. Edwards, The Blank Bible, WJE 24:1171—on James 2:24—“They fail to distinguish first and second justification. The first justification, which is at conversion, is a man’s coming to have a righteousness imputed to him. This is by faith alone. The second is at the judgment, which is that by which a man is proved and declared to be righteous. This is by works and not by faith only.”

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  201. To get the bad taste of je out of your mouth, Benjamin Keach (credobaptist 1640-1704, The Marrow of True Justification: The Biblical Doctrine of Justification Without Works, Solid Ground Books, Birmingham, Alabama USA, 2007, p 80)—” “Once we are justified, we need not inquire how a man is justified after he is justified. By that righteousness of Christ which is out of us, though imputed to us, the Justice of God is satisfied; therefore all Works done by us, or inherent in us, are excluded in our Justification before God.”

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  202. mark mcculley: To get the bad taste of je out of your mouth, Benjamin Keach (credobaptist 1640-1704, The Marrow of True Justification: The Biblical Doctrine of Justification Without Works, Solid Ground Books, Birmingham, Alabama USA, 2007, p 80)—” “Once we are justified, we need not inquire how a man is justified after he is justified. By that righteousness of Christ which is out of us, though imputed to us, the Justice of God is satisfied; therefore all Works done by us, or inherent in us, are excluded in our Justification before God.”

    RS: You just might consider that James (that is the James in the Bible speaks of two justifications. Roman Catholics confuse the two and so end up saying salvation is by works and by faith, but the text (James 2:24) clearly says that “a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.” We must not try to get around what that text says. Rome tries to get around it by saying that one is justified by faith and by works. Some Protestants try to get around it with other contortions. But the text plainly and clearly says that “a man is justified by works” and is not justified “by faith alone.” Verse 25 goes on to say that “In the same way, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way?”

    As much as Roman Catholics don’t like it, these two verses clearly teach a justification by works, but it is not a justification for salvation by works. As much as Protestants don’t like it, there is a justification by works. If you read James 2 closely, it is clear what was/is going on. Abraham was declared just and had a perfect righteousness imputed to him through faith in Genesis 15:6. James 2:21 tells us that Abraham was justified by works when he offerec up Isaac his son on the altar. Then in v. 23 it says that “Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness.” In other words, Abraham was declared just in the sight of God by an imputed righteousness in Genesis 15:6, but in Genesis 22 Abraham was justified in another sense when he offered up his son.

    The answer is this. Hebrews 11:17-19 tells us that Abraham believed the promise of God so much that it was through his son (Isaac) that the promises would come, that when God commanded Abraham to kill the son that Abraham believed that God would raise him from the dead. How do we know that Abraham believed the promises of God? It was many years later in Genesis 22. As much as Protestants like you (Mark) don’t like it, there is a justification that is not at the time of salvation. There are works that show whether a person truly believes (faiths) or not.

    Revelation also speaks of another judgment as does Phil 2 where all knees will bow. These are not the declared justification of sinners on the basis of the imputed righteousness of Christ, but are or works which justify in a different sense. Perhaps you would like the word “vindicate” better, but the text is still there and that is what people mean when they use the word “justification.”

    Rev 20:11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them.
    12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.
    13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.
    14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

    Christ Himself was vindicated/justified after or by the resurrection. I Tim 3:16 “By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness: He who was revealed in the flesh, Was vindicated in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Proclaimed among the nations, Believed on in the world, Taken up in glory.” Christ Himself, then, was vindicated or justified by the resurrection after His work on the cross. Sinners vindicate God or the law or demonstrate what they are by works, but not simply by works done in the flesh and in their own strength. James 2 is very clear about another type of justification. I hope that you will not find James giving you a bad taste in your mouth.

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  203. But we’ve see the RCC argument before, haven’t we? “Abraham is our father” becomes “Peter is our father.” The Hebrews had their extra-biblical traditions they followed, and the RCC has its extra- and contra-biblical traditions they follow. Jesus rebuked those traditions in the Sermon on the Mount and Matthew 23 and the Reformation similarly rebuked the RCC.

    If longevity is the key, let’s just go all the way back the treasure-store of tradition that existed at the time of Christ. The RCC’s? Eh, they’re Johnny-come-latelys.

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  204. mark mcculley: Edwards, The Blank Bible, WJE 24:1171—on James 2:24—”They fail to distinguish first and second justification. The first justification, which is at conversion, is a man’s coming to have a righteousness imputed to him. This is by faith alone. The second is at the judgment, which is that by which a man is proved and declared to be righteous. This is by works and not by faith only.”

    RS: Just before Mark’s quote of Edwards above, Edwards says this:
    “They mistook the nature of justifying faith, and supposed that mere assent of the understanding to doctrines [of] Christianity…was the faith the apostles meant when they said that we are justified by faith.
    2. They did not understand the connection between between justifying faith and works, and that the working nature of faith was the life and soul of it….
    3. They did not distinguish gbetween the first and second justification. The first justification, which is at conversion, is a man’s becoming righteous, or his coming to have a righteousness belonging to him, or imputed to him. This is by faith alone. The second is at judgment, which is that by which a man is proved and declared righteous. This is by works, and not by faith alone.

    The apostle Paul, as well as James, held good works to be essential to true faith (I Tim 5:8).
    Edwards defends the justification of the ungodly in his work on Justification as well as anyone. However, when you speak of James we must let the Word of God speak. But speaking of Keach, read this of the catechism that is in his name. It seems as if he might not agree with you either.

    Q. 38. What is sanctification?
    A. Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace whereby we are renewed in the whole Man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.

    Q. 41: What Benefits do believers receive from Christ at the Resurrection?
    A, AT the REsurrection believers being raised up in glroy, shall be openly acknowledged, and acquiited [justified] in the Day of Judgement, and made perfectly blessed, both in soul and body.

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  205. Jeremy Tate: Richard Smith, I do understand the Reformed Teaching on Justification and I believe it is only partial truth. You cannot be saved without love for God, Catholics cannot give up this truth.

    RS: You have yet to show that you understand the Reformed and biblical teaching on justification by grace alone. Maybe you do understand it and just reject it, but so far you have not shown that you truly understand it. Christ has loved God perfectly and so His life of love is imputed to His people as perfect righteousness. It appears to me that you want God to accept a very imperfect love that comes from us as a basis of justification. The perfect and complete love of Christ is all that is needed.

    Jeremy T: Let me end with a brutally honest quote from one of the most influential Catholic Apologists living today, Dr. Peter Kreeft;

    ” Perhaps God allows the Protestant/Catholic division to persist not only because Protestants have abandoned many precious truths taught by the Church but also because many Catholics have never been taught the most precious truth of all, that salvation is a free gift of grace, accepted by faith. I remember vividly the thrill of discovery when, as a young Protestant at Calvin College, I read Saint Thomas Aquinas and the Council of Trent on justification. I did not find what I had been told I would find, “another gospel” of do-it-yourself salvation by works, but a clear and forceful statement that we can do nothing without God’s grace, and that this grace, accepted by faith, is what saves us.”

    RS: But remember that Protestants and Trent define grace far differently, not to mention what it means to receive grace through faith. They are the same words, but we define them much differently.

    Jeremy T quoting Kreeft: The split of the Protestant Reformation began when a Catholic discovered a Catholic doctrine in a Catholic book.

    RS: Absolutely a horrid statement. Indeed Luther was a Roman Catholic, but he was shown the glory of the Gospel of grace alone in a way that it most certainly was not a Roman Catholic doctrine. You must remember that they tried to kill him over this doctrine. But also, the Word of God is the Word of God and it is not a Roman Catholic book. It is God’s book and belongs to no one else.

    Jeremy T quoting Kreeft: “It can end only when both Protestants and Catholics do the same thing today and understand what they are doing: discovering a Catholic doctrine in a Catholic book.”

    RS: Then may it never end. We must have the truth of God from the book of God, because after all it is the Gospel of the glory of God.

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  206. Erik Charter: Flipping through the channels this morning past several “church services” I heard Joel Osteen telling his massive flock that God would “give them what they deserve”. I immediately switched over to a show with a more accurate view of human depravity – “Mad Men”.

    RS: He is such a nice man, but “No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” I am glad to read that others are more repulsed by Olsteen than the world.

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  207. MM,

    Did you know you are channeling John Jewel, the 16th century English reformer and Marian exile?

    From Vol. I of “The Works of John Jewel” speaking about the line of Popes-

    And for that cause they say, “We are Peter’s successors”: even as the Pharisees sometime said, “We be the children of Abraham.” But Jesus said unto them, “Put not your trust in such succession. For God is able even of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.”

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  208. Jack, it didn’t figure I originated the analogy, but I’m not familiar with Jewel. One could say that I peddle arguments for a living, so I habitually try to see the strength of opposing arguments, but the argument from continuity/longevity is a non-starter. If there was discernible continuity of doctrine from Christ through today, if the Greek Orthodox church didn’t have an equally valid argument, and if the history of the RCC shone like a star, I could begin to see why someone would believe in it as an argument. To me, it’s one more mystical leap and not an argument at all.

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  209. Luke 10:20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

    Revelation 20: 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then ANOTHER BOOK was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

    My hope is not in the books but in the “another book”. The good works of Christians serve a doxological not judicial end.

    Beale: “The final judgment that unbelievers will face in the future has been pushed back for believers to the cross in the first century. Believers have already passed through the great last judgment.”

    John Fesko (ordained servant): “It is the wicked alone who are judged according to works because it is the dead who stand before the throne to be judged. The believer is openly acknowledged and acquitted NOT by a judgment according to works but through the resurrection of the outer man. The final judgment, therefore, is not a separate event following the resurrection but rather an aspect of the one organic event of resurrection-final judgment. The wrath of the final judgment that was due to the believer was poured out in the present upon Christ in his crucifixion. In this regard, then, we can say that believers have already passed through the final judgment in the crucifixion of Christ.”

    Fesko: “Some argue that there must also be a “not yet” of justification, which entails some sort of judgment either on the basis of or according to works. N. T. Wright argues that there is a present and a future justification, and that the future justification is on the basis of the good works of the believer. Herman Ridderbos (1909-2007), on the other hand, argues that the final judgment is not on the basis of good works but that the good works are merely evidential of a faith that trusts in the completed work of Christ. Ridderbos’s formula is to be preferred over Wright’s, as Ridderbos preserves the solus Christus in justification as Paul does. Nevertheless, it seems
    that both Wright and Ridderbos fail to consider fully the resurrection in this equation.”

    Fesko: “Only those who are justified are raised according to their inner man. On the final day, the eschatological verdict that is passed in secret in the present, is revealed through the resurrection of the outer man. The resurrection reveals who is righteous. On the final day, when Christ returns, the righteous are immediately transformed. Again, without God uttering a single syllable, the righteous will be able to look around them and know immediately who has been declared righteous and who has not. There is no future aspect of justification but rather only the revelation of the verdict through the resurrection. Or, we may say that justification is ‘already’ and what remains “not yet” is the revelation of the verdict that has already been passed on the basis of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, which the believer possesses by faith alone.”

    see the entire chapter “Justification and the Final Judgment”, in Fesko, Justification: Understanding the Classic Reformed Doctrine

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  210. McMark: Fesko said this… Beale said this

    RS: Rabbi X said this, but Rabbi Y said this. On the other hand, rabbi Z said this.
    The word of God is absolutely clear and for more clear than the rabbis and most scholars.. There is no way for a soul to be justified before God but by grace alone through the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ and the imputed righteousness of Christ. However, whatever one wants to call it, there will be a judgment of deeds on the last day. Read the Scriptures. If you don’t like the word “justification” in this sense, even though that is how James used it in James and Paul in Timothy, then find another word. But we cannot deny the judgment of deeds on the final day and over and over Scripture says that it is those who are righteous or do good who will enter heaven and those who do evil will go into the eternal fire. There is no way that those who enter heaven do so on the basis of their righteousness or on the basis of their good deeds, but they are the ones that go there and this is mentioned so many times one must deal with what the text says. Some have thought it wise to look at a second form of justification, but evidently you don’t. But the judgment of deeds will happen and those who do good will enter heaven and those who don’t will enter eternal torment.

    Matthew 16:27 “For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and WILL THEN REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS.

    Romans 2:5 But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS: 7 to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; 8 but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. 9 There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, 10 but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

    1 Corinthians 4:5 Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.

    Galatians 6:8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

    Revelation 2:23 ‘And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.

    Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.

    Revelation 22:12 “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.

    John 5:29 and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.

    2 Cor 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

    Titus 2:7 in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified,

    Titus 2:14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

    Matthew 25:31 “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32 “All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 33 and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. 34 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 ‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38 ‘And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 ‘When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ 41 “Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43 I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ 44 “Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ 45 “Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’ 46 “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

    Romans 14:10 But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11 For it is written, “AS I LIVE, SAYS THE LORD, EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME, AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL GIVE PRAISE TO GOD.” 12 So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.

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  211. Jeremy T; “On purgatory; the WCF (chapter XXXII) affirms that after we die we are then MADE perfect and then we enter into heaven. So when and where are we made perfect? According to the WCF it happens before we enter heaven? So, that begs the question, where does this happen? Catholics just call it purgatory, but the WCF acknowledges it nonetheless.”

    Baltimore Catechism;

    184. Who are punished in purgatory?

    Those are punished for a time in purgatory who die in the state of grace but are guilty of venial sin, or have not fully satisfied for the temporal punishment due to their sins.

    (a) There will be no purgatory after the general judgment.

    (b) Since we do not know how long individual souls are detained in purgatory, there is need for persevering prayer for the repose of the souls of all those who die after reaching the use of reason, except those who are canonized or beatified by the Church.

    (c) The souls in purgatory are certain of entering heaven as soon as GOD’S JUSTICE HAS BEEN FULLY SATISFIED.

    So either Jeremy T didn’t learn his protestant soteriology or he doesn’t know his new catholic theology very well or he knows both very well, and decided to draw a parallel where he knew he’d be obfuscating the protestant understanding of the satisfaction of God’s retributive justice in Jesus Christ, but he doesn’t adhere the protestant understanding so his obfuscation is no skin off his back but is a terrible violation of the protestant conscience and this at it’s most soul-imperiling point.

    And the beat goes on.

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  212. can someone help me refute Stellman’s quote here? ‘Having realized that I was using a few select (and hermeneutically debatable) passages from Romans and Galatians as the filter through which I understood everything else the New Testament had to say about salvation, I began to conclude that such an approach was as arbitrary as it was irresponsible.’
    much appreciated.

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  213. And also the Gospel of John, which is the ground of the Canons of Dordt.

    It’s important to see the Catholic system as a whole. One might, maybe, eke out a case for infusion instead of imputation as Jason has done. But then one must swallow “infusion but not perfection”, followed by “free will”, followed by “penance as sacrament”, followed by “mortal and venial sins”, followed by “purgatory.”

    These are all interlinked concepts, both theologically and historically.

    John strikes at the root of it all: “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”

    And that’s just the beginning. 🙂

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  214. Upcoming sainthood for…

    Vatican to announce John Paul II ‘miracle’
    http://tinyurl.com/pumdagc

    Always loved this skit. Good humor is always grounded in some element of truth- –

    Father Guido Sarducci:
    To be made a saint in-a the catholic church, you have to have-a four miracles. That’s-a the rules, you know. It’s-a always been that-a. Four miracles, and-a to prove it. Well, this-a Mother Seton-now they could only prove-a three miracles. But the Pope-he just waved the fourth one. He just waved it! And do you know why? It’s-a because she was American. It’s all-a politics. We got-a some Italian-a people, they got-a forty, fifty, sixty miracles to their name. They can’t-a get in just cause they say there’s already too many Italian saints, and this woman comes along with-a three lousy miracles. I understand that-a two of them was-a card tricks.

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